Listen up! Williams sure plays a mean guitar

I first heard of the DJ Williams Projekt shortly after this year's All Good Festival. The band played side stage one of the evenings and pulled a crowd as large as some of the headliners. People were so impressed that they called the band back for an encore performance on the main stage.

Then I didn't hear much about the group for a while. I caught wind of them playing a show at The Outback Lodge, but I missed that one too. But I heard about the show, post-party, while browsing my favorite comic shop, Atlas Comics.

I couldn't have fingered through more than five pages of Warren Ellis' third volume of Planetary when I heard a voice from down the stacks telling me what a loser I was because I didn't see/hear this DJ Williams and his project at the Outback. My informant had been at the All Good Festival as well, and loved what he heard so much he couldn't miss it when the gang came to town.

There was no way I was going to miss the DJ Williams Projekt a third time. They returned to The Outback Thursday night, October 27, performing with local budding jam-kids Osmotic. Osmotic held down the stage for a bit longer than was originally planned as we all waited for the DJ Williams Projekt to arrive. I was worried I might miss them again because they didn't show until nearly midnight, and the crowd had thinned considerably.

However, the band strolled in, all smiles, quickly set up, and began their set. The group consists of a few veteran players from the Richmond live music scene.: Modern Groove Syndicate and Oregon Hill Funk All-Stars. But the star here tonight was the tall brown-skinned bald man at center stage holding the guitar, DJ Williams himself.

There are some guitar players who can bust out a few tricks or nail an impressive run every now and then, and we like to say they're good at what they do. But DJ Williams is on another level altogether. The music he produces through those six strings is an extension of his heart and soul. He plays almost effortlessly, as if someone else is controlling his fingers. I'd like to compare him to Eric Krasno of Soulive, but in many ways DJ Williams could probably give even him a run for his money.

DJ Williams didn't move much. He played it cool and sounded even cooler. The vibe of the band was reminiscent of down-tempo funk soul with a hint of cool jazz– but just a hint.

The set DWP played at Outback that night wasn't the most exiting set in the world, but it was mighty enjoyable. They kept the pace at an even mid-tempo groove most of the night. DJ Williams even sang a bit. The horn section wailed appropriately, and the drummer was downright nasty.

At the end of the evening they laid into a medley that included The Jackson 5's "ABC" and Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit" back to back. That came out of nowhere like an overhand right from Roy Jones circa 1998. That was just showing off. Is it possible they could be that diverse?

Truth be told, this is a band to look out for. You can't say you haven't been put on notice. They have the jam scene talking. 'S'bout time you started listening.