Jon S Williams is a Gen X singer songwriter guitarist from Melbourne, Australia. He has been performing live since 1980. He has played all around Australia, as well as being based in Texas, USA in 1987. His music has been played on radio around the world. But make no mistake, apart from his close allies, Jon S Williams is a largely unknown quantity; internationally unknown in fact. But neither age nor obscurity impedes his desire and inbuilt drive to create and search the world of the rock song, in all its incarnations, acoustic, electric, solo, band, ensemble, duo, audience member, listener. Electric energy through the ear socket into the brain. In the moment at the moment that the moment is.
Williams started playing guitar, writing songs and performing at the age of 16 in Canberra. His 1st guitar teacher was John Copley, a finger style guitarist from the 1970s Adelaide folk scene. Copley introduced Williams to Leo Kottke, Doc Watson and the Sex Pistols. Soon after, Williams began playing with Andrew Rowell - tin whistle/bass (Barry Drive), Paul and Stephen Crabb and Steven Bardwell as 'Wesley'. They travelled to Sydney to perform and were known for their song 'Dead Budgie'. As well they saw bands like Midnight Oil, Redgum, Hunters and Collectors, Dead Kennedys, Elvis Costello and the Atrractions. Williams and Rowell have since played Maldon folk festival as The Angry Pawns.
Williams was an exchange student in Dallas, Texas in 1982/3. It was here at the Lake Highlands High Senior Concert that Williams first tasted the ever lasting longing for live performance, when he received a standing ovation from the 1500 strong student assembly, when he sang 'Poor Ned'. That feeling is what he will chase for the rest of his living days.
Williams then moved to Melbourne in 1984. His next guitar teacher was Rick E Vengeance, a legend on the Australian folk scene and a masterful player of the blues and all things psychedelic folk. Vengeance taught Williams how to play The Needle n the Damage done. Williams started performing in Melbourne coffee shops in 1984, trying out his original songs and interpretations of his favourite bluegrass and folk songs.
Williams played acoustic guitar in the Kensington Bush Band. This sort of music is a great Australian tradition of the past 100 years. Taking a lot from Irish music. He also played solo acoustic in summertime coastal coffee shops, performing his original songs and songs of the radio to people of all ages.
Williams played loud amplified acoustic guitar and sang in King Biscuit Time, a rag tag blues band of University friends and Blues enthusiasts, including Ken Farmer on drums, Chris Farmer on bass, Tex on lead vocals, Jappers on harmonica and Badger sometimes on drums. All through this time Williams continued to play solo, particularly at the Perseverance Hotel on Brunswick street in Fitzroy.
Williams moved to Texas (based in Nacogdoches and Dallas) playing guitar, mandolin, percussion and singing 2nd string in By Way Of, a prog rock group that Williams had formed friendships with when he was a high school exchange student in Dallas in 1982/1983. Andrew Stallings - Vocals/Bass, Bob Kimmerle- drums, Tom Cook - guitar.
Upon returning to Melbourne in 1988 Williams formed and fronted The 3 Sisters with Jeremy Gronow - guitar (Idiot Son, J Gronow), Andrew Papadopolous - bass (Deb Conway, Ron S Peno and the Superstitions) and Nick Green - drums. The 3 Sisters played weekly, a hired PA in tow and packed many smaller rooms and received airplay on PBSfm. [After Williams left the band, they remained as a 3 piece, changed their name to Helvelln, won the National campus battle of the bands, had their 1st (and only) album released by Mushroom and toured nationally for Triple J.]
In 1989/90 Williams sang for Colour Jungle, with Richard Robinson - guitar (live sound engineer for The Avalanches, Rockwiz), Ray Luhrmann - guitar (The Dirt Band), John E Lee - drums (The Dingoes) and Sean Dwyer - bass. Colour Jungle received airplay on RRR, played weekly and launched a cassingle at The Tote.
Williams formed a duo with Andrew Shakespeare - guitar (Hurdy Gurdy). They played weekly around Melbourne and recorded in Richmond.
From 1991-1992 Williams fronted Haunted Stage, a folk punk band, with Ashley Hazelwood - bass/vocals (Wild Pumpkins at Midnight), Kim Thomas - drums and Kari Morseth - flute/vocals. Haunted Stage was included on the 1st La Trobe University compilation CD. Haunted Stage played their final show at The Tote.
Williams then continued to play with Thomas in Inside Out, a folk rock band, from 1992-95, with Ro Packer on Violin. Inside Out were included on the 3rd La Trobe University compilation CD and performed at Port Fairy Folk Festival. Williams and Thomas continued to jam and write throughout this whole period.
Williams assembled a band to record at La Trobe University studios and play one show at the Empress Hotel. Richard Robinson and Andrew Shakespeare on guitars, Andrew Papadopolous on bass and Andy Wilmott on drums. This CD was favourably reviewed in The Form Guide, the monthly zine put out by the infamous Punter's Club and Richard Moffat.
Williams formed his 2nd band with Andrew Shakespeare called The New Leaves, a melodic rock band. Peter Whitehead - bass (Barb Waters and the Rough Diamonds) and David Craven - drums (Florid State, Quixotic). The New Leaves recorded with Richard Robinson at Bakehouse studios and the CD was mastered by Ross Cockle (Midnight Oil) at Sing Sing studios and performed at the Darebin Festival twice, as well as playing regular pub gigs.
Williams recorded his first solo album 'Sensitive
to my Surroundings' with Richard Robison - production at Bakehouse studios. He
released this at the Cygnet Folk Festival. He also played a headline spot at the Earthfest festival.
Williams recorded his 2nd album with Shane O'Mara (Paul Kelly, Chris Wilson, Tim Rogers) and released this at the Maldon Folk Festival.
After seeing a show by Girls Versus Boys whilst living in Barcelona for 2 months in 2008, Williams was inspired to start playing the electric guitar in a more punk/hard core style. When he returned to Melbourne he formed his 2nd band with David Craven on drums, called City of Cool. They recorded an EP in March 2009 with Idge E Crack at Soundpark studios (where Williams had been recording solo acoustic for 5 years), and played a few shows. They then had a 3 year hiatus while Craven lived in London.
Williams recorded a solo CD entitled ‘energy back will bite’ at Soundpark recording studio in 2010. It featured Nick Larkins - bass/organ/farfisa/harmoncia (Wild Pumpkins at Midnight, Dan Rumour Band, The Deans, Monique Brumby), Jeremy Gronow - space guitar and Idge E Crack - Production/Drums. David Briggs (Little River Band) mastered the CD. Williams played a most successful CD launch at Wesley Anne, in High street Northcote.
City of Cool recorded live @ The Espy and played monthly shows around Melbourne as well as road trips to regional Victoria. They received airplay on PBS and 3CR as well as in The USA, Croatia and Greece. Williams began 2014 by playing live at The Bitter End in New York City. He played this show with his new Martin Custom M-36, bought and designed by Mat Umanov in Greenwich Village and with a Fishman pickup installed by TR Crandall, the man who sets up guitars for the likes of David Byrne and Lee Ranaldo.
Williams then traveled to Auckland twice, to record City of Cool's debut full length album with drummer David Craven. Olly Harmer engineered and mixed at The Lab recording studios, Saturday 29 and Sunday 30 November, 2014.
Williams returned to the Melbourne live music scene with City of Cool live shows and their debut album mastered by David Briggs (formerly of The Little Rive Band and who describes City of Cool as "the thinking person's punk", is released (DIY). Reviews: Pretty cool music man - got a bit of Sonic Youth/Mudhoney about it. (of 'Between'): I love this song!!! Great rockin' out and yet soothing at the same time. I really enjoy your lyrics too! ...nice abstract visuals in the clip as well. Awesome sauce Bro! Really dig CCTV. Love a short track! Vacant Brain is rocking too. The album receives extensive radio airplay, including: Tony Biggs, On the Blower, Mick Griffin plays 'Meltdown' on his radio show 106.7 Phoenix FM (Bendigo). He said: City of Cool are confrontational, thought provoking, energy driven - I remember seeing the young people at the front of the stage with their jaws dropped open amazed at the noise these 2 make! Ken Eavel - Go for Broke - PBSfm 106.7, Live-to-air Southern FM 88.3, Live-to-air 3CR, Stanislav Zabic plays 'Meltdown' on his show The Little Lighthouse Channel 31 interview. The album launch is at Melbourne's home of rock The Tote. "Post Fugazi meltdown with incredible energy - drumming that takes off into the stratosphere and vocals/guitar that say yes! this is FUN!" (Former booking agent for Fugazi)
Williams records 11 songs with Idge at Sound Park Studios and Dan Cachia filming. All songs can be found on You Tube. Williams continues to play every Monday night at the Cherry Bar (16 months and 60 gigs) until October. He also plays a number of Cherry Bar Sunday night shows: "Jon S Williams doesn't need permission to be an artist. His creative, and energetic Art Brut attack has been a constant highlight of The Cherry Jam open mic for a year. We celebrate this local hero on Sunday 25th of June. Jon will be supported by the most exciting, fascinating, and entertaining new acts gathered from the Monday sessions. Prepare to find yourself a new favourite band at this gig!" by Cherry Bar
2018Williams records new solo band album 'The Violence is Slipping away' at Sound Park with Idge recording/mixing, Andy Papadopoulos (bass), Jeremy Gronow (electric guitar), Phil Campbell (drums). The album launch is at Wesley Anne. The live album mixed with Frank Pearce @ Studio Squid. City of Cool play 2 gigs (The Old Bar and The Grace Darling) with Luke You. A CD is recorded live at Soundpark rehearsal and released as a CD/YOU zine.