It’s always cool when national and international acts come to our fair state to perform, such is the case when a Chicago blues quartet will make an appearance Saturday, Aug. 24, at the Mountain Village Farm B&B, 164 Main St., in Kingfield, as part of their Blues in the Barn concert series. The band is Lil’ Ed & The Blues Imperials and is made up of Lil’ Ed Williams (on lead vocals and guitar), James “Pookie” Young (bass), Mike Garrett (guitar), and Kelly Littleton (drums). This Alligator Records recording group is touring in support of the CD “The Big Sound of Lil’ Ed & The Blues Imperials” and in a recent telephone interview from his home in the Waukegan, Illinois, area the jovial leader was more than happy to chat about his band and their upcoming trip to Kingfield.

Q: I understand that you’re coming up to Maine soon.
Williams: Yeah, in a couple of weeks, I believe.

Q: Yes, up to Kingfield. Have you ever performed up there before?
Williams: Not that I know of. I don’t think so.

Q: But you have been to Maine before, right?
Williams: Oh yeah, I’ve been there several times.

Q: To the North Atlantic Blues Festival, I would imagine.
Williams: Yeah, we’ve done that one a lot!

Q: Now your latest album came out in 2016, are you working on a new recording now?
Williams: Not yet, I wait on Alligator’s Bruce Iglauer to call me and say, “It’s about that time again!” and then I go to work…but I’m always thinking about lyrics and stuff, ya know?


Q: Well, Chris at Alligator sent me a link to “The Big Sound …” album and I’ve got to say two things about it: 1.) you sing and play with such passion; and 2.) I can tell that you are having one helluva lot of fun doing it!
Williams: Yeah, that’s what I do. I just like to have fun, man. The music moves me and I do what I have to do, ya know? That’s all I can say.

Q: When you’re getting ready to do a show like this in a venue you’ve never been to before, is it hard to make up a set list?
Williams: I don’t make a set list, I just go off the top of my head. If I make a set list I’ll never play the songs on the list because my head tells me to play something else. My head and my heart tells me to go elsewhere. I’ve tried lists but it just don’t work for me.

Q: Well, your band has been together for a while, right?
Williams: Oh yeah, 33 years now.

Q: Oh, man!
Williams: (Laughter)

Q: No wonder you don’t need a set list, these guys know what you’re going to do before you know!
Williams: Well, there are times when I’ve put out something on them that I’ve just written, but they seem to kind of know which way to go with it, you know. That’s how I make my new songs, I just kind of start something out — if I did it at home first — and I lay it on them and then they’ll have to deal with it, but they all know what to do.

Q: Now, about the show coming up, what can folks expect from you—seeing you’ve never played up there before.
Williams: Well, they can expect me to have a good time and they’ll have a good time with me. I move around on stage — I can’t stay still ‘cause the music really moves me, and that’s all I can say.


Q: Now, we’ve established that you’re waiting to hear from Bruce before starting a new project…
Williams: Well, I’m always working on something, I’m just not letting it out, you see?

Q: Oh, I gotcha.
Williams: Yeah, when I’m at home I pick up the guitar and I play. And I’m going in a really cool direction right now: I’m digging real deep with the old guys and the way they used to do things, and the words they used. It’s like I’m going back in time but I’m going ahead in time, as well, because I’m all in favor of bringing back some of that really old flavor stuff. Those guys had so many great lyrics and they told it like it was … it was a story that they were telling that was there, and it was real! And that’s why I’m heading in that direction because the world is so complicated today and so many things are happening today that I just have to figure out how to put it in perspective.

Q: You’ve got your work cut out for you, that’s for sure.
Williams: When you start singing about the world or singing about your surroundings or singing about what’s been happening in the neighborhood—it ain’t all about, “my baby done just left me” anymore, it’s a whole different world out there now.

Q: Yeah, man, it is. Look, sir, is there anything you’d like to pass on to the folks reading this article?
Williams: Tell them I’m going to be there and that I hope they’ll enjoy the music, and that I’m gonna do the best I can to make them have a good day!

Lucky Clark has spent 50 years writing about good music and the people who make it. He can be reached at [email protected] if you have any questions, comments or suggestions.

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