Tech notes:
  • electric guitar: Mike Williams / Silver Anniversary 1979 Fender Stratoscaster + Zoom 9000 (using early amp modeling technology) plugged direct into the PA mixer (no amp)
  • keys: Doug Koempel / Korg M-1 keyboard + Alesis HR-16 drum machine
  • All music is being played live. There are no sequences, backing tracks or overdubs. The keyboard is set to a split with bass on left side and keys (piano, organ, etc.) on the right side. The drum machine was set to loop 2-bar rhythm patterns, and Doug occasionally manually "played" the pads for fills.
  • The output of the mixer was recorded directly to a cassette recorder. The cassette tapes were eventually digitized to WAV files.

Doug's notes:
I've been lucky to have performed and recorded with some wonderful guitarists - Keith Zeller, Dave Christopherson, Mark Stumme and the iconic Jimmy Bryant (not to mentioned finger pickers, Kevin Conner and Jim Miller; and steel players Lefty Schrage and the late, great Buddy Emmons.)

But there's one guitarist who never ceased to amaze me with his blazing technique and inventiveness - that's Mike Williams of Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Mike joined me as a full-time Memory Brother in the early '90s. We were on the road for a good four years during which time we played a lot of gigs, recorded a lot of tunes and became good friends - sharing the same, off-the-wall sense of humor.

The Culture Shock known as Mike Williams

In 1990 our Memory Brothers' fans weren't ready for Mike Williams. Our followers were used to a laid-back, easy listening format with an occasional uptempo tune thrown in - but there were definitely no wild stage antics from Larry Crandall, Kevin Conner or myself. All that changed with Mike!

It would not be unusual to see Mike leaping onto a table or some similar precarious perch while playing a blistering guitar solo. He was also known to rush into the audience and sit on little old ladies' laps to serenade them (which they loved!)

I recall one of our die-hard followers cornering me after one of Mike's early appearances with me. With a very serious look on her face, this lady whispered, "This . . . this new guy. He just doesn't fit in with the Memory Brothers!"  Ironically she eventually became one of Mike's biggest fans.

A multi-talented guy

Mike was (and is) not only an amazing guitarist but also a gifted songwriter, singer and recording engineer. He's the type of guy who would pick up some obscure instrument and within a few days, he'd be playing it. Give him a few more months, and he'd sound like an expert.

I'd wanted to feature a ballad he'd written entitled "Just You, Just Me" in the Song Vault. I had been rummaging through my old studio tapes trying to find a recording of it when I came across several other tunes he'd written and recorded. I instead decided to showcase his demo of "Goin' To Oklahoma." Afterwards I'd gotten so many emails from subscribers raving about his guitar playing, that I decided to put together an audio collage of just his guitar playing.

So I recently found about two hours of recorded material from a 1993 live performance that Mike and I did at the venerable Cedar Cabin Club in Ashton, Iowa. So I pieced together a bunch sound clips of Mike's playing into a little audio montage for your listening pleasure.

browse the Song Vault archives.
Doug Koempel © 2015
play "Mike Williams' guitar excerpts"
SONG #34

the guitar magic of
MIKE WILLIAMS

artists: the Memory Brothers
recorded live at: Cedar Cabin Club, Ashton, Iowa / 1993