by Richard Defendorf
Pickers who attend Josh Williams’ guitar workshops are pretty much spoon fed inspiration, just from watching him play. But they also are likely to find a measure of relief – and maybe even savor a moment of vindication – when he explains his approach to the guitar.
Josh isn’t the kind of guy to hold fingers to the fire over body posture or pick grip. He doesn’t use tablature or lecture his students on the virtues of standard notation. Instead, he encourages each guitarist to develop playing techniques that are physically comfortable and that emphasize economy of motion. Musically, his guitar workshops are about tone, rhythm, and honoring the melody and emotional context of the song at hand.
Also, the workshops are about showing everyone at least one recent photo of Josh’s firstborn son, Weldon Grant, now five months old. The photo showcase was the opener on May 13 at Christ Church in Poughkeepsie, where HVBA played host to a Josh Williams guitar workshop for 15-plus people. (Trust me when I say the photo received more-than-polite nods, as most of us realized we probably will be taking workshop lessons from Weldon Grant Williams by the time he is 10).
Obviously, it is impossible to argue that the Josh Williams guitar ethos doesn’t work. At 30, he has already risen to the top ranks of acoustic musicians, and is blessed with a voice and singing style to beat the band. So he had us HVBA folks under his spell as he explained his take on playing rhythm and lead parts, and on getting the most satisfaction out of an instrument that is as rewarding as it is challenging.
By the time the workshop wrapped up, about two and a half hours after it began, he had us thoroughly energized about our prospects for becoming better pickers, and left several of us much more at peace with our own approaches to playing.