Rev. KM Williams Preaches Gospel Blues and Boogie With a Wicked Sound

You may have never heard him, but “the Boogie Reverend” makes quite a sound ripping through both gutbucket blues and gospel music.

By Jerome WeeksDecember 2, 2016 10:05 am, , , ,

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From KERA’s Art&Seek

Odds are, you’ve never heard of the Reverend KM Williams. He’s called KM because his first name is Kelvin – “and people always call me Calvin,” Williams says. “I’ve been called Marvin. I’ve been called Melvin. So I decided to shorten it to KM because everyone can remember KM.”

The irony is that North Texas has produced great blues guitarists from Blind Lemon Jefferson to T-Bone Walker and Stevie Ray Vaughan. But today, the blues is such a niche market in the US, it’s rarely heard by a wide public, certainly not in North Texas. Yet they know Williams in Europe. He’s toured there seven times. And Israel. He played one festival in Switzerland with a crowd so big he couldn’t see all of it.

At some point in most every show, the 60-year-old Williams will start playing this — hand-made oddity. If held up by the long, thin neck, it looks like a battered, very strange, squared-off, badminton racket. But it’s actually made from a broomstick with pipe clamps fixing it to an old, wooden cigar box. And out of this instrument, Williams produces some truly impressive slide-guitar rumble — with just two strings and an electric pickup.

In his home in Mesquite, Williams pulls the instrument out of a zippered bag and lays it out on his dining table. “This is basically a modern version of what we call a diddley bow. This one’s called a Lowebow because a guy named Johnny Lowe made it for me, using a cigar box. But I used to build diddley bows when I was a kid. I used a two-by-four and two nails and a couple of bottles or Coke cans. And I would just nail on one end, nail on one end, run me a guitar string across it and then take a bottle and then tighten it.”

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