Victoria Williams / The Bottom Line / February 5, 1999
Dressed hippie-chick casual for this special Bottom Line industry showcase, fragile-voiced pianist-guitarist-banjoist Victoria Williams assembled an adaptable Classical-folk ensemble (with a vibraphonist to boot) to complement her sweet childlike sentiments and sublime imagery.
Williams’ idiosyncratic singing caresses choice covers and several serene gems off her recently released Musings Of A Creekdipper. Although outwardly appearing ditzy and naïve, she assuredly orchestrated the on-off band through affectionate and earthy compositions without losing composure over such an ambitious undertaking.
Despite the informal presentation and some of the instrumentalists’ lack of preparation, each member seemed totally ‘in synch’ with Williams’ oeuvre. For posterity, thankfully, the show was videotaped in its entirety.
Perched at the pinao, she led off with the heartfelt “periwinkle Sky,” then switched to acoustic guitar to succinctly deliver the compelling ballad, “Kashmir’s Corn.” She entrusted the expansive arrangement of the rustic “Train Song” and the mellow “Nature Boy” (written by deceased eccentric lounge Jazz vagabond Eden Ahbez) to the very competent troupe and came out a winner.
“Hummingbird” adventurously crossed acoustic bluegrass picking with Classical violin, as gentle harmonica and atmospheric flute filled the softer spots splendidly.
Throughout, Williams combined genuine warmth with angelic innocence, bearing her soul while retaining a sincere ‘aw shucks’ giddiness. Between songs, her whimsical wit and playful teasing (with band and audience) comforted everybody. She left us with a spare piano-accompanied version of Louis Armstrong’s uplifting “What A Wonderful World.”
Though Williams’ delicately fractured high-pitched singing could be an acquired taste, she easily won over the audience with earnest, good-natured charm, sharing homespun stories ‘bout relatives, friends, and acquaintances. In a world full of underachieving complainers and slack loiterers, and despite being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (currently in remission), Williams’ endearingly and courageously follow her muse, living a peaceful life in the California desert with her husband, ex-Jayhawks leader, Mark Olsen.