Monday, September 2, 2013

Jason D. Williams at Hill Country Barbecue + Market

Originally from El Dorado, Arkansas, Jason D. Williams claims to be the adopted son of Henry "Hank" Williams Jr. and Dorothy "Marie" Carpenter Williams. Jason started playing the piano at age two or three, and left his hometown at age 16 to perform with rockabilly artist Sleepy LaBeef. Jason eventually relocated to Memphis, Tennessee, and started a solo career. His hands were shown playing the piano in the 1989 bio-pic of Jerry Lee Lewis, Great Balls of Fire! Williams’ most recent album is his third, 2004’s Don’t Get None Onya.

At Hill Country Barbecue + Market tonight, there was no escaping the comparisons of Jason D. Williams to Jerry Lee Lewis. Backed by a bassist and a drummer, Williams sang country-rooted rockabilly songs as if he was Lewis’ double and even looked like a younger (and slimmer) version of Lewis. Like Lewis, Williams played the keys of his piano with an unbelievably blinding rock and roll speed, stood and kicked his stool behind him occasionally as he played, threw his booted onto the end of the keys and stood on the piano. Williams even closed his set with his version of Lewis’ “Great Balls of Fire.” Always visually stimulating, Williams at times played his piano in reverse while sitting on the keys, played the piano strings with drumsticks, and played a frantic piece on the piano while balancing a plastic water bottle on his head. Many of the songs were covers, but even Williams’ original songs were based on old-time melodies and rhythms. While Williams’ presentation and the music was derivative, he proved to be a consummate and very entertaining showman.

Visit Jason D. Williams at