Victoria Williams’ show-and-tell

By James Keller

While on the road, folk artist Victoria Williams can be seen anywhere from thrift stores, the local zoo or swimming in the Bow River.

"Last time I was at the [Calgary] Folk Festival, I went swimming in it," recalls Williams, who isn’t discounting the possibility of returning to Calgary’s main waterway between performances and workshops at this year’s festival. "It just depends what crosses my path."

Williams, whose folk sound is brightened by her uniquely pleasing child-like voice, is currently on tour supporting last year’s Water to Drink. Over the course of the tour, which started last October, Williams has played almost every variety of venue out there. That includes theatres to night clubs to the occasional trashy bar–which isn’t always a bad thing.

"Last night was a dive," says Williams of their show in Denver on July 17. She’s quick to point out that despite this, it was one of her best shows of the tour.

"Did I say it was bad?" asks Williams. "It was a bar, but let me tell you, I liked it. It was really small and they didn’t have lights. Everybody was really close together–it was almost like playing at a home or something."

Williams is particularly excited to be part of the Calgary Folk Festival as it is a format she finds has the most to offer fans. She points to workshops with other artists as her favourite part of these events.

"I think workshops are really groovy," she says. "I don’t really plan anything for workshops because that’s what it is–it’s gonna teach me what I’m gonna play next. It’s more like show-and-tell."

Aside from playing show-and-tell with her musical talents, Williams hopes a similar impression will rub off on fans from her experiences and subsequent messages in her songwriting.

Diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis in 1992, Williams has had quite an amazing career despite her medical problems. A tribute album, Sweet Relief: A Benefit for Victoria Williams, was released in her honour in 1993 featuring performances from Pearl Jam, Lou Reed and Soul Asylum. Since then, Williams has released a number of successful albums and pushed her career forward in spite of her illness.


"What I would hope is that they would have inspiration in their own [lives]," begins Williams about what she would like fans to take from her music. "Whatever it is that they’re here to do, that they would have inspiration and that it would be good for them. That’s what I hope."

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