Josh Williams video goes viral

Did you hear the one about the bird that landed on some guy’s guitar in the middle of a show?

Well… over 1,000,000 people have now watched a YouTube video of Josh Williams at the 2011 Doyle Lawson Festival where this happened.

Josh was deep into the second verse of Mordecai when a small bird flew onto the stage and came to rest on his guitar strap. The bird sat there unconcerned while the band finished the song – even allowing Josh to stoke his back – and promptly took off as soon as the banjo tag signaled that the tune was through.


I first saw this precious clip last Spring when Ted Lehmann initially posted it online. Since then, the video has gone viral on YouTube, with well over a million hits as of this afternoon (3/1). It is difficult to fully grasp the various synergies that need to coincide for something to reach this many sets of eyeballs, and both Josh and Ted have expressed how much of a surprise and a great pleasure it is to be along for the ride.

Speaking with Josh earlier today, he recalled the incident well, mentioning that it was fortuitous that it was even captured on video.

“Ted had asked me before the set to play Mordecai, and asked if I minded if he videotaped the song. I told him to go ahead, and that was the only reason the camera was rolling.

When the bird flew on stage, I just saw it with the corner of my eye, and you can see me flinch on the video. I am deathly afraid of bugs, and all I saw at first was wings. My mind was saying ‘Keep singing! Keep singing or you’ll freak out.’

Once I saw it was a little bird, I was really tickled, and everyone seemed to get a kick out of it sitting there on my guitar.

When I called my wife after the show to tell her about it, she thought I was making it up. I told her that if I was going to make up a story, I would come up with a better one than that!”

Josh said that he is overwhelmed by the attention, and thinks it’s a good thing for bluegrass.

“If you read in the comments, there are several people on YouTube who say things like, ‘I never knew what bluegrass music was, and I like it.’ “

Williams and his band are in the studio now working on a new CD for Rounder Records. He is hoping to see it released later this year. The guys are tracking at Hilltop in Nashville, with J.D. Crowe producing.

And yes… with the newfound attention to this song, they are considering recutting Mordecai for the new CD.

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About the Author

John Lawless

John had served as primary author and editor for The Bluegrass Blog from its launch in 2006 until being folded into Bluegrass Today in September of 2011. He continues in that capacity here, managing a strong team of columnists and correspondents.