Musings on folk, Americana, country, bluegrass and newgrass

From Market Street to Beale Street: Seth Williams heads to 32nd International Blues Challenge

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MADISON, N.C. — Seth Williams is heading from playing the blues on Madison’s Market Street to Memphis’ Beale Street later this month.

A musical fixture at The Mad Bean — a coffee house turned restaurant turned concert venue — since it opened a year ago, Williams forms half of the duo dubbed Chrysocolla, which plays Americana, blues and ’60s and ’70s rock with a little bluegrass thrown into the mix. Madi Heath rounds out the duo that also writes its own songs.

“Madi and I play ’60s and ’70s stuff and blues fits right with what we do,” William explains. “But my passion is blues.”

Think the Eagles meets B.B. King.

The pair’s unlikely meeting two years ago could form the lyrics of one of their original songs.

“We met at the Antique Mall in Madison and started playing together. We both knew ‘Summer Breeze,’ and someone came by and said you all sound great. How long have you been playing together? We said, about 20 minutes,” Heath said with a laugh. “Then they asked us to play at their restaurant.”

Heath is originally from Patrick County, Virginia, but now hails from Madison. She’s a junior at Appalachian State University, where she’s majoring in English.

Heath, whose deep, sultry voice belies her age of 19, sounds like what you would get if you took Dolly Parton, Linda Ronstandt, Rhonda Vincent and LeAnn Rimes and threw their voices into a Salad Shooter. “I started playing bluegrass when I was 9,” she says. “But I’ve been writing since I could hold a pencil.”

Williams won the youth competition in October at the Blind Tiger in Greensboro to earn a spot in the Youth Showcase at the 32nd International Blues Challenge on Jan. 26-30 in Memphis. Blues musicians from around the world will compete for cash, prizes and industry recognition at various venues along the famed Beale Street, according to The Blues Foundation website.

“My friend Terry Vuncannon — he’s with the band Lawyers, Guns and Money — encouraged me to try out for the competition, and I won that and that was my ticket to go to Memphis,” Williams said.

Williams, a 17-year-old Reidsville native, has been playing guitar for about four years and singing for about two. When you hear him pick the guitar, however, you would guess he has been playing much longer.

Chrysocolla is working with Sound Lab in Greensboro to create an EP of six original songs in hopes of releasing a CD later this year, according to Williams.

What’s a Chrysocolla? “We were a three-piece band and we went to two, just me and Madi,” Williams explained. “We were looking for a name and going through birthstones one day and she showed me chrysocolla, and I said there’s the name right there. It’s really unique. It’s the musician stone. It gives you courage and confidence to play.

Heath is headed to Memphis with Williams to support him and in hopes of landing a couple of gigs as Chrysocolla while they are in town.

“Win or not, we’ll keep playing music,” Williams added.







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