"Oh yeah, I still have to answer that question four or five times a day," he says, laughing. "Especially when I'm on the road."
A prodigiously gifted musician, Williams grew up in a musical family where everyone had to learn an instrument. He started playing classical piano when he was 4 and didn't pick up the guitar until he was 16. Now he also plays drums, bass and clarinet — basically any instrument he can get his hands on.
Known for his popular Tuesday-night gigs at CafAc Diem, anyone who's seen Williams play solo or in a band can attest to his creativity. But he says his band, which sports Gordon Jones on sax, Todd Herrington on bass, Dusty Simmons on drums and Brian Mahne on keys, is too often lumped into the jam-band scene because its members tend to improvise live and incorporate elements of jazz.
"I hate that term, because every band jams, you know," he says. "But we have been moving more toward a song-based structure [in recent years]."
The group's last album, "Projekt Management," came out in 2005, and since then the band has been inching closer to rock-, funk- and soul-based material, with Williams writing and singing. The new stuff will be featured on a live DVD. Williams says the group's been pursuing the digital-video route since industrywide CD sales have gone south and more people are enjoying their home-entertainment systems. A seven-man crew with high-definition cameras shot the band's five-year anniversary show at Toad's Place in March. Williams says they will be releasing the DVD themselves, and it should be available in local stores and at their shows.
So far, the group has relied on a grassroots word-of-mouth method of reaching fans. Williams was pleasantly surprised when he recently toured solo in Europe — London, Hamburg, Paris, Milan — and found that he already had a fan base across the pond.
"To have a built-in crowd over there really tells you a lot about the Internet," he says, "and the power of these new mediums."
The group heads to the West Coast for the first time in October.