With a voice that conjures names like Ray LaMontagne and Ben Ottewell (Gomez), William Mimnaugh, (stage name wiL) writes songs that push the boundaries of what is considered contemporary folk to include elements of old school country, pop, rock and blues. In October of 2019 while deeply invested the writing and recording of his seventh studio album, wiL made the trip from his home on Vancouver Island to the mainland at White Rock to perform a show with his long time drummer Keith Gallant and guest musician, Shaun Verreault. The show yielded, quite by accident, a live album, his second, in the past decade. For a seasoned touring musician whose shows have been coined by press as ‘legendary’, there may be no better time than the present to have a recording like this on hand.
Not one for school, wiL's youth consisted of skateboarding and holing himself up listening to music; everything from the country twang of Chet Atkins to the raucous punk sound of The Sex Pistols but It wasn’t until 1998, after hearing the flagrant use of an overdrive pedal on an acoustic guitar in Neutral Milk Hotels ‘In an Aeroplane over the Sea', that he really started refining and defining his sound and playing style, one that would capture the attention of label execs in 2003. Signing to EMI shortly after saw the re-release of his debut indie album Both Hands launching his career as a songwriter and touring musician.
Known for playing mostly with ‘just a drummer’ wiL mesmerizes listeners with his unusual strumming technique while creating lush, fat and full acoustic guitar sounds that have become signature to the live experience’ but it has taken the better part 20 years to get there and he’s still not done. Fastidious. Yes. Meticulous. Yes. A.D.D.?? Probably, but it’s precisely this that has landed him some pretty cool gigs. Standouts include opening for soul legend Mavis Staples, Canadian Indie darling, Feist and one of his music heroes, Ray LaMontagne.
While the initial plan was to release his next studio album sometime in 2019 life intervened and then in early 2020 so did Co-Vid 19, the virus that shut down music venues worldwide, paralyzing the music community and subsequently annihilating income from live performances, the last remaining source of viable income for independent artists. While the world is struggling to come to terms with the new reality, wiL is delivering to his steadfast following of fans and to the world, a double blast of indie roots rock by way of an album called 'Live at the Blue Frog' coupled with the matching concert footage to stream online via his website (www.ibreakstrings.com) as of May 1st 2020.
The concert features guest musician Shaun Verreault, singer/guitarist/songwriter for the band Wide Mouth Mason,playing his lap steel with trademark slides on each finger while adding an additional layer of casual comedic rapport to the steadfast duo whose chemistry oozes with a kind of calm and easy respect developed from years of mutual enjoyment playing on stage together.
In closing, until we can all pack ourselves safely into our favourite music haunts, continue to make and share playlists, dial up that streaming platform and let the music play.