What: Live and silent auction, dinner buffet with "celebrity" servers from the Gainesville community, entertainment by Lefty Williams
When: 5:30 p.m. Saturday
Where: Gainesville Civic Center, 830 Green St. NE, Gainesville
Tickets: $50 per person, $90 per couple, $360 for a table of eight
More info: 770-530-7353
Lefty Williams of Marietta was just 4 years old when his dad taught him to play guitar, and 6 when he and his grandfather collaborated to create a custom pick.
"The very first song that I learned how to play was Jimi Hendrix and ‘Hey, Joe,' and then I learned how to play ‘The Wind Cries Mary' after that one," said Williams, 36, who will perform Saturday at the Our Neighbor Inc. 2011 Annual Banquet & Auction at the Gainesville Civic Center.
He was born with no hand on his right arm, a fact that seems near irrelevant to the soulful musician.
"I would say that the way that I was raised and the way that my personality has always been ... it's not ‘Can you do it?', it's ‘How are you going to do it?'" he said.
"When I was a young kid, I used to pitch for the baseball team for Little League," he said.
"I would take off my glove and pitch the ball with my left hand, and then throw my glove back on my left hand before the batter would have a chance to hit."
Williams approached becoming a skilled guitar player in the same fashion, learning basic chords from his father, teaching himself more complicated licks and then continuing his education after high school at the Atlanta Institute of Music.
The school offered Williams a teaching position after he graduated, and he took them up on it for two years.
But as tour dates began to fill his schedule, Williams had to follow his passion.
"I really enjoy teaching, but touring is one thing that I have always wanted to do," he said.
"It's the only thing that I've ever been focused on my whole life. I've always wanted to be a guitar player, from before I can remember."
A full-time musician since 2005, Williams has played gigs all over the map, from Flagstaff, Ariz., to the Virgin Islands, to Burlington, Vt.
He performs 150 to 200 shows per year, with support from his parents, who attend shows when they can, and his wife of eight years, Ray Anne.
"My mom and dad both love it," he said. "My entire family is very supportive."
Williams' music, he said, evokes James Brown and The Allman Brothers.
He describes his style as "Southern rock with sort of a funky feel to it."
On his most recent album, "Snake Oil," Williams said he runs the gamut on topics, from his divorce from his first wife, to his three kids, to staying faithful to his current wife.
Listeners can also take a peek into the challenges of the music industry on "Snake Oil" and "Frightened," as Williams sings about a former booking agent who promised the world, and didn't deliver.