Lon, Lis, Gabe
Another Saturday night at the European Street listening room on Beach Boulevard in Jacksonville. Another fantastic ninety minutes of the best acoustic music Florida has to offer... The Gatorbone Trio, Lis Williamson, Lon Williamson and Gabe Valla, blend flawlessly into a montage of restfully simple to startlingly complex vocal and instrumental bliss. In their various incarnations (depending on who is performing with them) as the Driftwoods, The Gatorbone Band, or the Trio, these folks more than anyone I know should be performing on the biggest stages before the biggest audiences. They are as good as anyone out there today.
Lis Williamson is the vocal heart and soul of the trio. Her sweet, lilting, voice is equally at home with her original 1940's style tunes ("Do the Town", Deep") from her recently release solo album "Deep", to American roots tunes like her self-penned "Cracker Girl", to tragic ballads like "Bell of the Mine". ANd lis is no slouch instrumentally -- she strums her Martin guitar as an expert rhythm player while effortlessly grabbing complex jazz chords with her left hand like she was born to it. Her claw-hammer style banjo playing in excellent, and tasteful (even for a banjo!), adding variety and texture.
Lon Williamson is the trio's backbone -- his effortless bass perfectly supporting the broad range of styles with a firm, tasteful foundation. His smooth harmonies blend beautifully with Lis's lead vocals, and when he takes the lead on one of his original tunes you can feel the depth of his commitment to the pictures he paints with his lyrics.
Gabe Valla. Wow. Gabe is simply the most versatile flat-picking guitar and mandolin player around. He is smooth, fast, complex, and intuitive on both instruments, and a creative composer of instrumental tunes (another style at which the trio excels). From bluegrass to ballads, Gabe puts together just the right blend of creative chord structures and lead breaks that leave journeyman guitar pickers like me wondering how he imagined that, and how his fingers covered the notes. Often adding a third harmony vocal, self-effacing young man is the definition of musical talent.
Lon and Lis
So okay, I'm a little biased -- Lis and Lon are co-producing my new solo project and Gabe is recording some back-up instrumental tracks for me -- but these guys are the real deal. You can read more and LISTEN to a few of their tunes here. And for information on upcoming shows at the European Street listening rooms (including my band on September 25th), click here.