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5 questions with Lefty Williams
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Jason “Lefty” Williams has been playing guitar since he was 4 years old.
Lefty Williams
When: 8 p.m. Saturday; show starts at 9
Where: Bigg Daddy’s, 807 Edelwiess St, Helen
How much: $3 (21 and older show)
More info: 706-878-2739 or www.biggdaddys.com

For some people, it takes decades to figure out what you want to do in life.

Jason “Lefty” Williams, though, figured out what he wanted by the time he was 4, working out a way to strum on a guitar with his right arm even though he was born without a right hand.

He was in his first band by age 11, having learned classics by Led Zeppelin and Yes by just listening to the music. He later went on to study and then teach at Atlanta Institute of Music.

His second CD, “Snake Oil,” digs deeper into the blues — his chosen musical direction after mastering many genres — and pulls from his personal life, too. We had a chance to talk with Lefty about his influences and his songwriting on the new album.

Question: To pick up the guitar and be determined to play at age 4, it seems like you must have had some music in your family. What kind of influences were your parents, musically?
Answer:
My dad plays guitar and his dad played guitar and my great-great aunt, she was a famous country musician back in the ’40s. My dad, before I was born, used to put headphones on my mom’s stomach and play Yes to me in the womb. It was definitely something I was born into. My dad was never famous, but there was always a deep love of music.

Q: After years of playing classic rock, metal and alternative music, how did you settle on a bluesy/jazzy style for your albums?
A:
I’m musically schizophrenic. I change my styles al the time. In fact, my band is about to go more towards a more funk direction ... and basically the thing with me is that I like all different kinds of music, and I get really bored playing the same thing over and over again. But what led me to do the bluesy stuff is my wife basically told me, “You know, you’re really good at playing the blues, and maybe you should focus on that.”

It’s not so much this is one (style) I’m good at, it’s one I like to stop and hang on for a while. I’ve played all kinds of different music, and I love playing blues, but I have a hard time sticking to one style. I think it was her direction, saying, “Try this for a while.”

Q: Was your songwriting inspiration for “Snake Oil” from a more personal perspective than your first album?
A:
“Snake Oil” came from different things. Most of the songs on “Snake Oil” came from a bad relationship with a booking agent. Most of the stuff, like he promised me the world and then kind of stuck it to me. There are a few songs on the record that are fairly autobiographical and personal. “You Had to be Right,” ... the song’s not about (mom) fighting al the time, it’s about being a child of divorce. My mom and dad split up a bit, and the song’s kind of my views of my memories of things and how they happened.

When it seemed like one of the people in the argument didn’t have to be right, maybe things could have been worked out. “Thank You” is about my ex wife and I; we split up but now we’re both happier, we have happier lives.

Q: Have you always sung, too? How old were you when you realized you had a great voice?
A:
I started singing in church, when I was a kid. I never tried to sing and play guitar until I was in my teens. I started this one band and nobody could sing (back-up vocals) and I started singing and playing then.

They used to tease me about my voice, and I’ve always had a bit of a complex about my voice. I was having a hard time finding a singer after leaving the Atlanta Institute of Music, and I was listening to a lot of Dave Matthews and I said, “You know, I’m just going to sing for myself.”

Q: What will you be playing when you’re in Helen on Saturday? Any new stuff we can look for?
A:
I’m still writing the funk stuff right now, so right now the band is rehearsing a loft of funk covers. I’ll do a lot of stuff off “Snake Oil” and stuff off “Big Plans,” along with some covers. I like to mix it up. I like to play things people recognize.

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