CULTURE- FRIDAYS UPDATE SOBs: Sons of Bill first out of the gate

One should combine the words "aggressive" and "country" only with the utmost care, lest they conjure images of terrifying rednecks throwing beer cans from a passing pickup. Thank heavens for Sons Of Bill, the local hillbilly rock outfit that gives us cause to combine those terms without trembling.

Sons Of Bill consists of the Brothers Wilson, three siblings with as much musical camaraderie as family history. With the help of bassist Seth Green and new drummer Jonathan Flax– brothers in spirit, if not in blood– they make driving country-rock that will punch you in the face if you call it alt-country.

While it worked for Brian, Dennis, and Carl Wilson in the 1960s, decades of brotherhood and music apparently did nothing for these SOBs until 2005, when they finally got their act together and did something about the fact that they're all competent musicians. While visiting his hotshot freelance guitarist, Sam Wilson, in New York, primary songwriter James Wilson demo'ed some of his works-in-progress. Sam found them so compelling that he moved down to Charlottesville so they could start a band together.

"It was originally conceived as my solo project," says James, "but Sam really took it under his wing."

And while it's charming to think of two brothers cementing their relationship while sitting on a bench in Washington Square Park, things transpired a little differently in Sam's run-down corner of Brooklyn. Yes, folks, that's right: familial ties notwithstanding, Sons Of Bill owes its existence to the ubiquitous social lubricant which– along with money, oil, and cheap third-world labor– makes the world go 'round.

"Neither of us could really afford to go out to New York bars, so we just stayed in and played music all night," says James Wilson. "The only music that we both knew were the old country songs." That's still what motivates them these days, even if they go about rendering the tunes a little more forcefully.  

The past few months have seen them logging a lot of hours in the van and on stage and cashing in on a recent remixing/remastering job on their debut album by, as their website puts it, "trading freshly re-released copies of A Far Cry From Freedom for sweaty, beer-soaked ten dollar bills."

In other words, Sons Of Bill inhabits a slightly different world, one driven by sweat, alcohol, money, and rock 'n roll. One can only hope that those values infuse the rest of the Fridays After Five season.

Sons of Bill kick off the summer Fridays after Five festivities at the Pavilion on the Downtown Mall Friday, April 20.

Sons of Bill
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