WW: And actually I listened to….have you heard of a Japanese pianist, Hiromi?
Smitty: Yes. Oh yes.
WW: Holy cow!
WW: Oh yeah. You know, I actually stumbled upon her on My Space and never knew she existed and just listening to that opened up my head, opened up my ears and, you know, I see a transition taking place or I don’t know where it’s gonna take me, but I know it’s gonna be a good place.
Smitty: (Laughs.) Absolutely, man. Yeah, that’s great music. Been listening to Hiromi for a number of years now. Let’s see, I wanna say that Hiromi was on the Telarc label. Well, talk to me a little bit about this new record, man. I mean, I love this artwork. Wow! Who was the creative soul?
WW: The graphic artist was Dave Arruda, who is with the Whaling City label.
Smitty: Very nice. Let’s talk about the band. I mean, you’ve got a great band here and well introduced on this record.
WW: The band is fairly similar to the last album with the major exception of the drummer. The drummer on this CD is Derico Watson, who, I mean, we just connected musically. I mean, he just kinda picked up on what I was trying to say and then it became this rapport between him and Chris Kent, the bass player, and just set up this incredible rhythm track. And then Denny Jiosa, I mean, he just really stepped up to the plate with the guitar, background and the solo, and actually I started stepping back, taking away some of the solos that I did, to give him more space to play ‘cause he’s a beautiful guitarist.
Smitty: Yes indeed. Wow. I love his playing as well. And who’s your upright bass player?
WW: Alana Rocklin. She did a really fabulous job.
WW: She only sat in on one of the tunes, “Pensacolada,” but, I mean, she really did that song justice.
Smitty: Yes indeed. It’s a great track.
WW: It’s an ode to my favorite place to hang out.
Smitty: Oh really?
WW: Yeah, Pensacola.
Smitty: Oh yeah, what a great place. I love that white sand.
WW: Oh yeah.
Smitty: That’s one of my favorite tracks and I love “Not Suitable for Children.” That’s a kickin’ track.
Smitty: And I guess my number one favorite has gotta be “Sweet Surrender.”
WW: Wow, interesting.
Smitty: Yeah, what can I say? I love that track. It’s very nice. Well, you’ve got 12 fantastic tunes on here. So much that my favorite track changes from day to day.
WW: Thank you very much.
Smitty: You’re so welcome. And it’s just a beautiful album and I am just enjoying this and can’t wait to introduce this to the world and let a few more people know that William Woods is out there making some great music.
WW: I sure do appreciate that.
Smitty: Yes indeed. So, now, you’ve also done some incredible work with Habitat for Humanity. That certainly is a worthy effort and very admirable.
WW: Yes. I was aware of them for several years, but they really took on a whole new meaning right after Hurricane Katrina. My wife and I were very, very fortunate in having gone out of town right before the hurricane had come to our area and we were sitting out in Phoenix watching all the events unfold on television and it was just amazingly heartbreaking, and even though the hurricane had pretty much gone through, the center of it almost came through our town. We were inland enough so that the damage was nowhere on the same magnitude as on the coast, but feeling so amazingly lucky, number one, that we were safe; number two, that we had a home and knowing that we needed to do something for those people who didn’t, and several people that we knew, their lives were just profoundly affected by the hurricane. I mean, we’ve had friends who’ve lost everything that they’ve had, have lost family members…that’s when charity took on a whole new meaning for me.
Smitty: Talk about some of the things that you’ve done to get involved with Habitat for Humanity on this level after Katrina. Talk about some of your post-Katrina efforts.
WW: Aside from personal contributions, I’ve decided to contribute half of any profits from my new CD to Habitat for Humanity.
Smitty: Oh, that’s excellent.
WW: And any publicity that I can get for them.
Smitty: That’s beautiful. Wow. So, now, how are things going there from what you can ascertain from just being close to the scene there? Talk about how things are progressing.
WW: That’s a very tough thing to say because we’ve driven along pretty much the entire coastline from I’d say Waveland all the way over to Biloxi and the amount of devastation is unbelievable. They had some of the most charming communities down there which just got physically destroyed, but then you see things like small businesses starting to pop their heads up in Bay St. Louis, and just the spirit and the character starting to resurface and it’s very heartening. I think the bigger places like Gulfport and Biloxi are gonna have a very long and upward struggle.
Smitty: Yeah. We see only so much on television, but it’s great to hear someone that’s there close to the scene to sort of give us a better picture or a little more in-depth picture of what’s happening. I know that a lot of musicians have made donations through the sales of their music and that kind of thing, but I often wonder, because there’s been some benefit concerts and that kind of thing, what’s your assessment of how the music is contributing to the healing of this catastrophic event?