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The box set Cadillac Baby's Bea & Baby Records: The Definitive Collection brings to light...

Cadillac Baby's Bea & Baby Records - Downbeat 2019 Holiday Gift Guide

Downbeat Magazine

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Anyone who's looking to advance their career would be very well served to have Michael...

Sari Schorr

New York songwriter/bandleader/singer

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Michael is a 21st century renaissance man who has both the business acumen and the...

Don Wilcock

Freelance Music Writer

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Lil’ Ed Williams

Lil’ Ed and Dave Weld share half the songwriting and half the vocals on their dual effort, Earwig’s CD 4936, Keep On Walking.  Ed also is featured on CD 4941, Who’s Been Talking, with Willie Kent.

Diminutive nicknames are common enough on the Chicago blues scene and in the case of Lil’ Ed Williams the “little” is even shrunken down. This hard-driving guitarist and vocalist is nonetheless a formidable presence in the former genre circa the new millennium and events such as his 2007 Rattleshake tour and album. By then Williams had led his Blues Imperials for more than 25 years off and on, inviting comparisons to the kick-ass blues-rock of Hound Dog Taylor & the Houserockers. The “Lil’” fellow has a connection both stylistic and ancestral with guitarist J.B. Hutto, a uniquely rough-hewn performer in his own right. Hutto would certainly have been proud to see his nephew go from working in a car wash to teaching Conan O’Brien how to play the blues in a skit on national television.

Family connections continue in the band itself: bassist James “Pookie” Young is Williams’ half-brother. They began playing together as children. Williams at 12 was already fairly good on guitar, drums, and bass. Hutto offered plenty of guidance to both Williams and Young; in 1975 the semi-siblings formed the first version of the Blues Imperials. They made six dollars on their first gig. Upward momentum on the gig ladder was stimulated in part by a bite some ten years later from an Alligator, as in the indie Chicago blues record label. Williams and band came in to cut a pair of compilation tracks and wound up tracking a total of 30 songs, most of which were released on the 1986 Roughhousin’.

-Written by Eugene Chadbourne