Interview by Danny Coleman

All In, a new release from Austel, Georgia native Lefty Williams.  This five song EP features some of the purest examples of down home, southern style rock ‘n’ roll, mixed with a straight ahead groove that is truly unrivaled by anything out there today.

“Lefty,” as he is known, grew up with the influences of a musical family and began playing guitar at the tender age of four. Lefty’s father and grandfather were both preformers and they encouraged his development as an artist through patience and a willingness to let Lefty find his own way.“My dad taught me how to strum,” says this incredibly smooth and talented axeman who was born without a hand on his right arm. “Then he taught me how to listen to music, I mean really listen to music. I wanted to solo like a Jimmy Page or a Hendrix and my dad got me to listen closely; I guess playing the guitar is in my blood.

Lefty has never let his lack of a fully developed right arm slow him down; in fact, he embraces his lot in life with vigor. “I picked up the nickname Lefty from one of my smart-aleck friends in middle school,” he stated with a laugh. “It’s not something that I mind talking about at all. I know that many people shy away from it but hey, it’s who I am ya’ know? Feel free to ask whatever you want it doesn’t bother me. I was born without a hand; I think it’d be much harder to have had one and lost it, don’t you?”

Lefty Williams

Williams, as mentioned, doesn’t allow what others consider an impairment to be a deterrent; even developing his own line of specialty guitar picks which are designed to overcome it. Utilizing a strap, a pick and some rivets as part of its make-up; Williams has created a fitted design that he gladly shares with the world on his website. “I invented the pick when I was six,” he explained. “I used glue, staples and whatever else I could find and came up with the idea and it just evolved from there.”

As the years went by, Lefty garnered quite a reputation as a guitarist and songwriter and his talents became well known in the Atlanta area and its surrounding communities. However, like many a young man, he was also bitten at a young age by a bug; the love bug. Williams placed his music career on the back burner a bit as he wed at a young age and he and his wife had three sons. “Umm, I never really stopped playing, I just wanted to be a good dad and a proper husband and being out in the bars and clubs until late didn’t really lend to that; life kind of got in the way a bit so I stood back.”

Sadly for Williams this marriage, his first, ended in divorce but true to his outlook; everything happens for a reason and in this case the reason was AIM. The Atlanta Institute of Music was where Lefty found himself after his “split” and even he admits that he was “at a crossroads”  in his life. “Other than my divorce, things were going ok for me. I really wanted to do something with my music so I went to AIM. Up until then I thought the only way that one could make it in music was to get discovered; AIM taught me that there was much more.”

In addition to his family, Williams lists Jimi Hendrix and Jimmy Page as influences; even elevating the Zeppelin guitarist to number one status; David Gilmour of Pink Floyd, however, is his favorite strummer of all time. “I’m a huge fan of his,” he explained. “He is my favorite of all time due to him being so melodic and so good but Page is my favorite riff guitarist,” he finished with a chuckle. These influences have led Lefty to produce a style of music that is not only greatly crafted, but rocking and melodic as well.

All In is a well-written collection of material that is only a very small portion of Lefty’s vast catalog. This disc released Thursday, August 21st, on Tree Leaf Music is the result of William’s desire to be heard once again. “Umm, this is my first on an actual record label (Tree Leaf Music), and I found them when I used to host a Monday jam; I did that for seven and a half years in Atlanta. We had to move the jam to a pizza place in Smryna (GA) and Ashley Dennis started showing up; he’s a sound man with lots of credentials and has toured in the past. My last album was quite a while ago (2008’s Snake Oil) and I had about 25 songs written and I thought that I really needed to put another album out but the recordings that I had done of these were not what I had wanted to give to the whole world; so I asked Ashley to give a listen. He listened and was excited and thought that I should approach a label; this gave me the shot of confidence that I needed, and I approached a local record label and they were like “We’ve got to record this.” When it came time to pick the songs for the album, we wanted to pick the five best and between all of us, nobody could pick five; we all disagreed (laughs)!”

After listening to All In one may very well understand their difficulties. The first track, “Crescent” starts with a great funky rhythm punctuated by nice drum hi-hat work and an opening line of “Met her in an Amtrak station heading down for Mardi Gras…” and the tune just rides, as if on rails from there, smooth yet funky with great horn accents and if you really listen; that Gilmour influence in the guitar leads.

“Let It Roll” starts with that down home guitar jukin’ feel which was alluded to earlier; highlighted by some very tasty slide guitar work and a tight rhythm section which gives this tune a very crisp feel. The attention that Williams pays to almost subliminal details throughout this disc is very evident on this cut.

“Coming Apart” is a soulful ballad with a big sound, “I’m on my knees again and I can’t find my feet, well I want to breathe again but I’m scared to release….” A great opening line and it, along with the rest of the song, is sung with such raw emotion; the kind which grabs a hold of you and says, pay attention to me.

“You Know I Love You” is a bluesy ballad which walks that fine line between slow rocker and ballad. Another well done piece featuring background horn accents and more powerful, yet melodic vocal work. Throw in a nifty guitar ride in the middle and this piece is one of those, that when performed live, will have the crowd swaying and “Flicking their Bic” lighters for sure.

“You Don’t Tell me” is just a straight ahead rocker which makes great use of accents and changes guaranteed to have toes tapping and rear ends shakin’ as Lefty pushes through this one with energy from start to finish. Some nice background harmonies add a great touch to this piece and a fitting closer as it leaves you wanting more.

Lefty has done a magnificent job with this EP, well worth a listen and a nice return after six years of no studio releases. The title itself kind of encompasses how Williams feels about the friends and family who’ve seen him through and/or helped him over the years. “Ashley is responsible for the title really,” he said as he gladly gives credit to the man who restored his confidence a bit. “We chose the first five songs that we finished since we had such a tough time and as we were going through the process there were lots of people who volunteered to help. Whether it was playing on the album or in studio and he just kept jokingly saying, “Everybody is all in “because of the gracious help that I was receiving from all over; so we went with that.”

Williams has much to offer and look forward to as he prepares to launch a tour after the disc is released, a tour, which at the moment is limited to the southeastern part of the country and into the mid-Atlantic region. “Our immediate goal is to expand the tour. I come from the south and southern rock is, well, it’s old hat down here. Everybody thinks you sound like the Allman Brothers if you’re from Georgia, I mean they set the standard and they are great no doubt; it’s just hard to get people excited about southern rock in the south. When I go to New York or Cincinnati, people give us such a positive reaction because it’s different; it’s really a lot of fun to be accepted and get people interested outside of your home…”

An air of confidence permeated the remaining conversation as this seemingly rejuvenated man appears ready to dive in head first to touring and rededicating himself to bringing his music to the masses. Shall “All In” be any indication of what he is capable of; he is well on his way.



Lefty Williams is "All In"
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