Last Day of Galax

Johnny Williams - Last Day Of GalaxJohnny Williams released his most recent CD, Last Day of Galax, in August but we didn’t get a copy until this week. It clearly shows why Johnny has earned his reputation as among the most expressive singers of traditional bluegrass music we have on the scene today.

Johnny is in his element here, singing the sort of driving, soulful bluegrass that has been his staple for years, recording and performing with his wife in The Jeanette Williams Band, or as Johnny & Jeanette Williams. Joining him this album are Jeanette on bass, Chase Johner on mandolin, Tony Mabe and Debbie Yates on banjo, Billy Hawks and Kathleen O’Connell on fiddle, and Kenneth Berrier on steel guitar.

Williams is also a first rate songwriter, contributing 11 of the 15 tracks, 2 co-written with Tom T. and Dixie Hall. The title track is a lament he wrote some time ago as he was preparing to pack up and leave the legendary Old Fiddler’s Convention in Galax, VA. It nicely captures the once-a-year community that exists for this gathering, mixed with many of the familiar jam tunes heard in the field each year.

Another standout is his This Country Living’s Changing Every Day, which includes a clever lyric that will resonate with a lot of bluegrass fans.

This country living’s changing every day.
I spend all my time checking emails instead of bailing hay.
I’m computerized – with ATV’s replacing mules out in the barn.
This country living’s changing every day.
I don’t know why I’m complaining ’cause my back don’t hurt this way.
This country living’s changing every day

Johnny Williams with Big Country BluegrassJohnny shows his classic country chops on Hank Williams’ I Can’t Help It If I’m Still In Love With You, and even covers The Allman Brothers’ Midnight Rider, which is now as standard in bluegrass as it is in the rock world.

His singing is strong and compelling throughout, with vocal support from Jeanette and Amber Collins. The rhythm section and soloists are spot on as well, and the songs are all honest, and sincerely performed.

Anyone who enjoys traditional bluegrass, country or old time music will surely want this one in their collection. Audio samples and online orders are enabled on the Jeanette Williams site.

A special Johnny Williams & Friends concert is scheduled for this Friday (10/17) at The Rex Theater in Galax, VA, featuring most of the performers from Last Day Of Galax. It will be broadcast on WBRF-FM 98.1 in SW VA, and streamed live online.

Williams is now working with Big Country Bluegrass, on guitar and lead vocals. You can find a tour schedule on their web site.

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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.