Woodford Folk Festival review: Karl S Williams @ Garland, 28.12.16

He’s a sad man when he sings, that Mr Williams. But when he speaks from behind that beard, his coy smile humbly belies that sadness. Clearly enjoying his craft, and entertaining his audience, Karl S Williams filled the Garland late in the morning of the second day of Woodford festivities. Two of the front rowers who joined me had never heard him before but it wasn’t long before the swaying and toe tapping began. What a voice and what an entertainer…

The set’s highlight must have been a tie between I Fell For You with it’s kazoo solo followed by Crick Boue’s little guitar playtime, and the rocking blues of his crowd fave Beelzebub, which solicited rousing applause. Williams mixed up the set with a few of his previous works, well received by the crowd, and a number of new songs from his soon to be released album. The flowers of the Garland stage complemented the flowers on Williams headwear just nicely, contrasting the sometimes edgy tone of his set.

God will be cutting down any gambling and rambling back biters

Williams’ new material was popular and it will definitely be worth catching one or more of his shows at Woodford this year. He’s also hosting an illustrations workshop, showing his diversity as an artist, not simply an accomplished musician. His new album will be much anticipated, possibly in early 2018 or “when I get around to it” (he tells me), and there’s no doubt he’ll be playing to growing crowds through next year if his Garland opener at Woodford is any indicator. Williams closed the set with a spiritual, as is his practice, informing the crowd that “God will be cutting down any gambling and rambling back biters”. The crowd took note and any gambling appeared to stop. However, the rambling continued as punters sought out the next exceptional Woodford spectacle. Woe to them, perhaps. Perhaps not.

Photos by Jude Kalman, Fotomedia

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