Davey Williams

Friday, October 11, 2002. 8:30 pm

I’ve become a devoted Whatist. There is a peculiar “southernism” of conversation, where one person meets another and says something like, “Hey, man what’s going on?” The second person says, “Tell you what….,” followed by silence or a change of subject. This exchange is an affirmation that both people already know what’s going on and no violence will ensue, important to life in the South.

— Davey Williams

From Birmingham, the solo improvised guitarist Davey Williams is the veteran of projects with LaDonna Smith, Anne Lebaron, Gustavo Matamoros, Curlew with George Cartwright, Tom Cora, Wayne Horvitz and Ann Rupel, Jim Staley & Ikue Mori, Eugene Chadbourne, the Shaking Ray Levis, Gunter Chrismann, John Zorn, Eugene Chadbourne, Kramer, and more.

The guitarist, critic, publisher, and activist Davey Williams (1952–April 5, 2019) is an eternal inductee into the Roulette hall of fame. Born in York, Alabama, Davey Williams is generally acknowledged as one of the founders and preeminent exponents of American free-improvised guitar playing. In his late teens and early twenties he worked in the blues band of Johnny Shines, and in the soul band and revue Salt and Pepper. By the mid-1970s he had begun involvement in new jazz, avant-garde composition, surrealism and free improvisation. In 1974 he and LaDonna Smith formed the improvising duo (and record label) Trans Museq, during which time he was also active in Rev. Fred Lane & the Debonairs and the Raudelunas Pataphysical Revue.

From the mid-1980s, he was part of the New York downtown scene, playing in the band Curlew with George Cartwright and Tom Cora, and in many other settings. He has worked with many contemporaries in new composition and free improvisation including Anne LeBaron, John Zorn, Jim Staley, Ikue Mori, Col. Bruce Hampton, Andrew Dewar, and in the London-based trio Say What! He has appeared on many recordings and has performed internationally in a wide variety of solo, ensemble and multi-media events. — Bio as of 2019

Photo: Janice Hathaway