Hoodoo Featured in the Sun Prairie Times!! | Aaron Williams and the Hoodoo

Hoodoo Featured in the Sun Prairie Times!!

Posted on Sunday, September 15, 2013 by admin 1 Comment

Hello Hoodoo friends!

Here is an article printed in the Sun Prairie newspaper in support our show at the Sun Prairie Blues Fest this past weekend. Enjoy a little Hoodoo history!

Sun Prairie, WI- The Star- Sept. 4th, 2013
While sitting in a sun-drenched Potbelly’s on a summer evening in early August, Aaron Williams answered a question regarding what he does for a day job. Considering his band plays about 140 yearly gigs, you’d think he’d answer that he was a professional musician.

You’d think he’d answer like that, but he didn’t. Instead, Williams, sporting dress pants and a collared long sleeve shirt, replied with a chuckle that he’s a science geek with a degree in cell physiology from UW-Whitewater.

He was certainly dressed the part of a white-collar professional with a demeanor to match, but when the weekend arrives, or the occasional weeknight, Williams puts on a whole new persona – a mad scientist of sorts – trading his scientific instruments in for his instrument of choice: a guitar.

For the first time in several years, Williams will take to the lab at Sun Prairie Blues Fest along with his band Aaron Williams and the Hoodoo, which has experienced a great deal of success since forming five years ago in 2008.

“We’ve kind of found a really good balance with playing music, having a healthy lifestyle and still furthering the name of the band. I think we’re in a real good place right now, where we’ll all happy with how things are going,” Williams said, referring to how the band has cut back somewhat on how much it travels and how many gigs it plays.

Back in 2011 alone, the group played 170 shows, and just this summer the trio did their 1000th show since forming. And for a band that’ s consisted of the same three people since it started, that many shows in that amount of time is special as Williams explained.

“That’s quite a bit. It’s rare that you find two guys that you can get along with and spend that much time in a band and traveling on the road and not kill each other,” he said, noting the band travels within a six-hour radius of Madison.
“It’s something that we are proud of because there are a lot of bands that do 100 shows and we’ll do a show with them and they’ll kind of assume that we don’t have day jobs. And we’re really proud the fact that we’re able to do that many shows and still all have jobs, because as any musician, it’s hard to make a living playing music. All the more power to people that can. We’re just very careful.

“It’s not a matter of trying. It’s a matter of doing. You either do or you don’t. You either have the time or you don’t.”

As Williams discussed during the interview, when the modern blues group originally formed, it wasn’t exactly love at first sight. Williams’ dad, Cadillac Joe Andersen was hosting a blues jam at his club in Deerfield, the Cuda Café, but when he got too sick, Williams chose to take over the operation. He ended up meeting his drummer Eric Shackelford at the jam and the two continued to play together at the club. The third member of the band known as Z also played at the club and Williams expressed interest in hiring him as the bass player and third member of the group. However, Shackelford wanted nothing to do with Z, saying he wasn’t right for the band – Williams referred to the relationship between the bass and the drums as a marriage, and Shackelford didn’t feel that type of relationship was there with Z. But Z continued to show up and play at the club, and eventually he and Shackelford got past their differences. Now five years later, the two are practically inseparable, according to Williams.

With a strong connection amongst the power trio – guitar, bass, and drums – and a plethora of shows under their belts, the group has honed its take on the blues.

“We really like to use the term blues and roll because it really is that. I would say high energy blues and roll,” Williams said, describing the end product is a combination of blues, rock and roots, and not distinctly one genre. “We’re not very subtle. We prefer to slap you in the face and make you decide whether you’re going to like us or not. It’s in your face,” Williams said.

The band’s mixing of styles stems in part from Williams’ interest in a wide variety of music growing up, with his major influences naturally being three guitar players: Jimi Hendrix, John Lee Hooker and Ronnie Earl. But for so someone interested in music, specifically guitar players, Williams never really wanted to play the instrument until his teen years.

“I always had music playing. I just never wanted to play it. I wanted to meet girls so I picked up a guitar. That was as simple as that,” Williams said of when he first played guitar at the age of 16.

From there, Williams joined his dad’s band as a side man playing guitar and traveling with the group from 1998 to 2003, all while attending Whitewater. But in 2003 when his dad could no longer play, Williams too gave up playing for a while, until he got back into the swing of things at the Cuda Café in 2008.

When Aaron Williams and the Hoodoo formed, Williams, who had only played guitar, now took on a new role as singer, which started out on a bit of a rough road.

“That was the first time that I’ve ever really tried that kind of thing and it was a slap in the face,” Williams said of trying to sing. “It’s a lot harder than I thought.”

But with the band named after him, Williams really had no choice but to continue to keep working at singing. The good news is that all three members of the group do vocals at one point or another, diverting some of the pressure off Williams’ vocal chords.

Still, even a few struggles with singing haven’t stopped Williams and the band from success. The group has already won seven Madison Area Music Awards and one Wisconsin Area Music Award in the short time together. Included in the awards are the MAMA for Artist of the Year and the WAMI for Blues Artist of the Year, both from 2011.

More recently, although not an award, the group released a new album called “Live, Loud Harmony,” which was recorded live at the Harmony Bar in Madison. The compilation was the band’s first live album, something Williams was excited about because of how much different the band sounds live as opposed to a studio recording.

“Live, Loud Harmony” includes two new songs, two covers the group has never done before, and six other songs off the first two albums. Although they have no set list for the Sun Prairie Blues Festival, according to Williams, the new album has nearly all the songs the group will play at the show.

But as the group plays what their friends – Williams refers to the band’s fans as ‘friends’ – want to hear, you never know what you might hear come Sept. 14 at Angell Park. Aaron Williams and the Hoodoo will play on the Cigar Box stage, something new to this year’s festival, and those who go will witness a few tricks that the band employs.

However, there aren’t any tricks when it comes to the music Aaron Williams and the Hoodoo produces, as their passion for music can be felt through their unique blues and roll style.
“I think the biggest thing is that we genuinely love to play and I think it shows in our performance. We believe it’s a privilege to get up in front of people and I think people resonate with that kind of thinking because no one wants to go and see a band that’s just up there because they have to,” Williams said. “We’re up there because we want to.

“And there’s nothing like – it’s cliché – but there’s nothing like seeing people dancing, and smiling and supporting music that you wrote yourself. When you can take time and write a song and practice and rehearse it and get out in front of people and have people enjoy what you’re doing – there’s very few things that are better than that.”

One Comment

  1. Leean White
    4 years ago

    Go Aaron Go! You self promote all you want. You guys deserve all the recognition you get…and more! And how wonderful of you to include a pic of the red headed group of fans!


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