Classical 91.5

Brian Williams

Aug 27, 2016

Dubbed by Frank DeBlase as the "Top Cat on the Bottom End," Rochester-based bassist Brian Williams seems to be everywhere. He plays everything from swing jazz to blues to, most recently, bossa nova. He's shared the bill with national acts, including Muddy Waters, Albert King, and Asleep at the Wheel, and taught slap bass technique workshops across the Pacific Northwest.

A child product of the 50s, Brian Williams grew up listening to rock n' roll radio and watching American Bandstand with Dick Clark. After school, he and his friends would roll up the carpets and dance to 45-records with moves they had learned from watching American Bandstand. In college, he discovered jazz and began noodling on guitar and banjo. Soon, he and some friends began playing in the hallways at lunch break, formed a band, and were hired to play at a party, where they were discovered by the owner of the Cottage Hotel in Mendon. Soon after, a 17-year old John Mooney wanted to sit in with Brian William's band on their breaks, and though dubious at first, they knew instantly John Mooney had something special. Brian Williams toured with the John Mooney Blues Band for 10 years, performing at festivals, clubs, and concert halls from Maine to Chicago to New Orleans.

Brian Williams claims he learned how to play bass from watching John Mooney's left hand, and lists him as an influence in developing his unique slap-style bass technique.

To aspiring young musicians, Brian Williams says "Fear not. Go play with as many musicians as you can."

To hear Brian Williams in action, visit:

The Djangoners
Credit Alyssa Rodriguez