Article by Eileen Majors
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When you hear the musical talents of this band you are likely to kick up your heels and dance. My first acquaintance with their music was with a CD left in my car by my son. Original after original, these new songs I was hearing took me back to fond memories of my dad’s country music blaring from the record player in our living room. This music, however, was ignited by rockin’ rhythms and catchy choruses I’d never heard before.
Northern Traditionz band is made up of six inspiring musicians who basically grew up together. Kenny Williams, (songwriter, lead singer and rhythm guitar player) and Hippy (the bass player) sat down to tell me that they were raised on country music. Behind them stood the rest of the boys for the interview, cutting up and cutting each other up as only best of friends can do.
Fiddle player Tony Rios gained his experience playing classic violin. That was until one day when John Henry (Uncle John) suggested they bring him on as fiddle player. “Same instrument” they each explained, “you just play it differently.” Tony has developed a sound that adds greatly to the character of the songs that are making these boys famous throughout Northern California. Matt Chomistek is the drummer; Chris Anderson plays lead guitar and is a back up singer. Uncle John plays guitar and offers lead vocals for many of those good old country favorites they play.
Kenny writes their original songs, the boys told me, as they continued to explain how he also orchestrates musical parts for others in the band.
“He gets on the drums and shows me how he wants the fiddle part to sound.” Tony told me as they all laughed. Kenny broke in to humbly confirm that the song writing is a group effort. In Kenny’s deep dark eyes, one can see the makings of the original songs are, as he sings it, “the makin’s of my heart” in their song, This Guitar, another rocking original they perform.
(Lyrics INSET on page):
When I was young, my dad told me, “Why don’t you pick up this guitar? Said “It might help you to keep what’s true, never forget who you are.” What he gave to me will always be the makin’s of my heart. I love everything that comes from this guitar. –Lyrics from‘ This Guitar’, by Northern Traditionz – Songwriter Kenny Williams
“We’re picking country-rock-raggae, cuz Baby, that’s who we are.” is exclaimed in the lyrics of their Drinkin’ Song. (I think it should be called the Dancin’ Song.) The group definitely gets crowds up and dancing. “Good things happen pretty much everywhere we play.” Kenny told me. There are more new songs in the works that they will soon begin playing for the crowds who come to hear their unique style of music.
The guys started out playing heavy metal and their metal band Esoteric still performs occasionally (without Uncle John). The ‘country-rock-reggae’ as they call it, has definitely taken the lead in their lives; they are booked solid for most of the year. “This whole country thing started with family”, Hippy told me. “Uncle John taught us to play some of Pops’ favorite country songs for his 50th birthday celebration. We had no idea how far it would go.”
Kenny added, ” Uncle John has an awesome voice and his ability to harmonize made us sound like a million bucks.” And that is exactly what fans hope for this band and their songs. I must agree I would not be surprised to watch them accept their first Country Music Award. They are getting around, have played at The Roxie in Hollywood; they have opened for some notable bands including The Fried Brothers at a Redding Convention Center performance. They have also been featured on ‘Nor Cal Noise’ a radio show on ZROK, a popular Northern California rock station. They love the mountains and their music tells it.
They sing about their “Hippie house, where we play our songs” in their Drinkin’ Song. They gutted the theater room of the home and made it into a jam studio. A pool and bar add to the fun of the “Hippie House” where their music comes alive. Between the years dating back to first grade, they have lived together, played together and worked together in their landscaping business, Chico Yard And Pool where I was told, “everybody works from time to time”.
They can be reached at 530-624-9827 or you can email them at [email protected]. Check out their music online at reverbnation.com/northerntraditionz.