Listening to Tim Williams play the Blues

You know when you’re northbound on 14th St. SW? You know when you pass Heritage Records and you see that big, ol’ mural of that cool looking old guy playing a guitar? Did you know that the cool old guy playing a guitar is international Blues legend, Tim Williams? Did you know he plays Blues guitar every Tuesday at Mikey’s Juke Joint? For free?

It’s true! Every Tuesday night, Mikey’s boasts Blues night with Tim Williams. Ryan and I rocked up around 9 pm, took our seats at a table near the stage, and ordered our drinks from the breezy, hip young bartender. Our ice-cold beverages arrived at our table and the music began.

Tim Williams was born and raised in California. As a musician growing up in Southern California in the ‘60s, the stories this man tells are not surprising. He introduced the song Summer Land by saying, ”back when I was in school in Santa Barbara, [this beach] was full of a bunch of crazy musicians and painters and artists drinking wine and dropping acid and watching the sunset. It was too good to last… Anyway, this song is about that.”

It is hard not to smile while he plays. His voice blends beautifully with the music, and his fingers move effortlessly on the strings. He played covers of some of his faves, introducing each song— the time period, the songwriter, the story— and played some of his own tunes too. “I wrote this song from out of nowhere” he said, “I thought, it’s either start drinking now and watch daytime television OR write a song. So I wrote this song.” The song was titled ‘Rehearsal for the Blues.’ For something written in a dingy hotel room in the middle of Camrose, Alberta, this song was beautiful.

Then he played his cigar box guitar. This instrument really is a cigar box, with a piece of wood stuck in it, and a few extra pieces attached in specific ways. Tim plays this guitar with a slide on his finger. I have never been to the southern US, to the Mississippi River, and am not a connoisseur of the Blues scene, but I feel like Tim Williams playing a cigar box guitar is the real thing. Thanks for the Blues, Tim! Thanks for the rad musical evening, Calgary!

Mikey’s Juke Joint is located at 1901 10 Ave SW and hosts Tim Williams every Tuesday night at 9pm (unless Tim is out of town).

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