Meg Williams is soft-spoken and sweet, perhaps even a bit shy. The Rochester-based singer/songwriter/guitarist laughs nervously when discussing her music — a bluesy jam with a casual twist of funk and soul — and her group, The Meg Williams Band. It's all captured on the band's excellent debut, "Troubles To The Wind." But the bashfulness is beguiling and perhaps a tad misleading, especially when she picks up her guitar, plugs in, and peels out. Beneath this sweet exterior lurks a rock 'n' roller. It was one guitar solo that lit the torch and sent the young lady down the road to six-string bliss.
"I guess what got me into electric guitar and sent me on the electric path was listening to David Gilmore's solo on Pink Floyd's "Comfortably Numb," the now 22-year-old Williams says. "It was like, 'I wanna play that.'"
It started of simple, really. When William was in her early teens, she picked up where her mother left off.
"My mom bought an acoustic guitar to learn how to play but she never did, so I picked up on that and knew right away; this is what I wanted to play."
When her first band, DMF (Dub My Fish), a quasi-reggae funk band ended, she banged around like a pinball doing solo acoustic gigs and lighting up open mic stages around Rochester for a spell, before putting together The Meg Williams Band. Everyone in the band — Sara Rogers on Trumpet; Jake Wark, saxophone; Adrien D' Angelo, bass; Matt Bevan-Perkins, drums; D'Jean Vasciannie, drums; and guest utility man Mike Brown, lap steel, mandolin, and tenor banjo — brings their own heat, but it's clear: this is Williams' show.
"I pretty much write everything on my own," she says. "Then show it to the band and we work on it together."
But she'll be the first to tell you; it ain't always an easy ride.
"Sometimes some of the things in my head don't work out as great as I hoped," Williams says with a laugh. "But then they [the band] come up with some things I never would have thought about and we work it out."
This working-it-out, work ethic has paid off with the band's debut eclectic, yet cohesive CD, "Troubles To The Wind." It's an easy going jam for the most part, but what grabs you is the soul burning and bristling just underneath. Soul that may not be apparent right away. Soul disguised in its own simplicity.
The opening track "Give Me None" is an easy-going romp with horns that urge "get down" while Williams' guitar gently weeps. You can hear the sun setting in "I Wanna Be With You." "Breakdown" let's the band get a little boisterous and stretch its funk legs, while "Lighthouse Lullaby" — featuring William a la carte on acoustic guitar — is beautiful and warm like a lullaby should be. Mike Brown's aerodynamic lap steel gives flight to the cut "Life Can Be So Complicated."
While Williams is off for the summer from her studies in Music Therapy at Nazareth, she and the band plan on tightening up and gearing up for a busy summer, hitting local and regional stages hard. The demand for the band is clearly on the rise despite its abbreviated time on earth. Its joy is infectious, undeniable, and admirable.
"They're some of my best friends," Williams says of her band. "So it's fun getting everybody together. I like where it's heading. We all work really well together."