Reviewed by Rebecca Sheriff
I had the pleasure of seeing guitarist Jamie Willard Saturday, April 30, at the Blind Tiger Pub in Johnson City. Willard has performed with a variety of bands for more than 30 years in the area; however he is now focusing on his fingerpicked style solo work. His solo material can be heard on radio throughout Europe, Canada and Australia, but you have the opportunity to hear him live the first Friday of every month at The Potter’s House Coffee & Gift Shop in Windsor and subsequent Fridays at the Blind Tiger.
Willard’s intricate fingerpicking style was in full force during the show I atended. The pieces he performed ranged from delicate and relaxed to percussive and playful, often utilizing slap guitar techniques to bring about a different dynamic. Watching and listening to his playing was captivating. I particularly enjoyed “What Really Matters,” a piece that evoked reflection and thought. By contrast, “Vices and Virtues,” a lighthearted piece musically, demonstrated how the two characteristics often play off each other. In addition to his original compositions, Willard played a few cover pieces including “A Little Help from My Friends” in an unexpected classical/bluesy fashion.
At the show I picked up Willard’s latest CD, Wounded, which features all of the dynamics from his live show. Many of the tracks are a mix of classical and new age sound. The title track is a slower piece full of emotion; in it, the listener can hear the wounds speak and tell their stories through the music. “Get a Grip” starts out purely percussive and transitions into a fast-moving melodic piece anchored by a strong hook with many short, detailed sections. The final track, “On a Day Like This,” is a feel-good piece with many pleasant-sounding phrases concluding the CD on a positive note. Willard has many CDs of his original work available at his performances. Some examples can be found at http://www.cdbaby.com/Artist/JamieWillard.