31-year-old Jason Williams was born with a right arm that stopped a little below his elbow. Not many in that condition would pick guitar. But pick it up he did, and pick he does! When he was six he devised a way to affix a guitar pick to his abbreviated limb, taught himself to read music, and like tap dancer Clayton “Peg Leg” Bates, gave the impossible a short, sharp, shock. Over time, he refined the pick attachment and spent several years teaching guitar at the Atlanta School of Music (imagine coming into his classroom with some lame excuse for not practicing!). On Snake Oil, his second release, Lefty continues to show he doesn’t need a leg up (as it were) to play in the big leagues.
Williams’ Southern blues-rock is rougher than the Allman Brothers’, smoother than Lynyrd Skynyd’s, and at times a little jazzier than either. Except for a bit of overdrive, his electric guitar is effects-free – satisfactorily gritty on the rough numbers and clean and full on the sweet stuff.
With a voice that sounds like a Dixie Steve Winwood, Lefty would be a first-class front man even if he didn’t play well enough to render his so-called handicap irrelevant. Maybe the only fault with Snake Oil and its memorable, smartly tailored songs (“On The Prowl” and “So I’ll Stand”) is that he doesn’t show off enough. The man’s got more chops than a Kansas City butcher. It’ll be great to hear him stretch out even further on the next disc.
This article originally appeared in VG‘s Sep. ’08 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.