Willie Laws is a world traveled musician with deep roots in Texas where he was raised. His music has been influenced by Texas blues, R & B, Louisiana zydeco and country which has given him that funky blues guitar and vocal sound.
Laws now lives in Massachusetts and won the 2011 Massachusetts Blues Challenge which led to his competing in the 2012 International Blues Challenge and the invitation only 2012 King of Beale Street competition.
He's worked with some of the greats including BB King, Etta James, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Hall & Oates, Willie Nelson and Buddy Guy. Laws has also performed as the house band for the House of Blues in Louisiana and Las Vegas.
On many a Thursday night you'll find Laws performing with his band at the Next Page, 550 Broad Street in East Weymouth. Musicians from all over gather and take turns performing with Laws. You never know who is going to show up. It can get crowded, so get there early. It's a fun night and there's always free pizza!
Examiner spoke with Laws to find out more about his twenty five years in the music business.
Examiner: Did you grow up in Texas close to the Louisiana border? Dr. John, Harry Connick Jr. and so many others have come out of that area. How did New Orleans influence your music?
Laws: "Well, I grew up in Southern Texas. My family goes back five generations of authentic Texans! In The southern parts of Texas, I was exposed to mainly different forms of American Roots Music, Conjunto, Zydeco, and Cajun as well as Blues and Country. If a person is a good musician and resides in the city of New Orleans, then that person will be similar to asponge soaking up everything musically that was there prior to Katrina. Quite a few more of the New Orleans legends were still alive then. Guys like Eddie Bo, Snooks Eaglin, Earl King, Sam Berfect and Johnny Adams. I feel so blessed to have known and performed with these guys during my stay in the Crescent City."
Examiner: How about a road warrior story?
Laws: "I learned how to be a road warrior when I was on active duty in The US Navy. There are too many and I could never really tell a short story. One of my favorite stories is of a brief reunion with my cousin, the late Billy Preston at Mandalay Bay in Vegas. We had a few laughs and shared some memories of family members. I never saw him again after that. I have too many. I have a smoking Willie Nelson bus story but we won't go there."
Examiner: Who has been your biggest influence to date?
Laws: "My adopted Father the late Phillip Walker. He taught me so much about being an entertainer. He taught me the magic of saying more and doing more with less."
Examiner: Can you tell us about being the house band for the House of Blues in both New Orleans and Las Vegas?
Laws: "Prior to moving to New Orleans I was hot on the Southern California music scene in the early 1990's. I felt as though I was missing an integral part of my music and myself. I knew that the best answer was to get back down south, close to home again. I moved to New Orleans in 1994 and within six months I was all over the place. I made regular appearances at The H O B New Orleans with Herman Earnest's House of Blues All Stars and began to do a lot of private parties and opening act slots for The House. Through that association I was invited to be in The House Band at the newest House of Blues at that time. From 1999 until July of 2003 we performed three nights a week in the HOB Courtyard at Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada. My relationship with HOB company started in 1994 and continues to this day."
Examiner: What has been a wow moment for you? Working with BB King, Etta James or Buddy Guy?
Laws: "The Wow moment still continues. I have to say that meeting the people a person admires the most, in any field or profession, is a wow moment."
Examiner: Tell us about your time working with BB King? What was that like?
Laws: "Much has been said about Mr. King's humility and humbleness and it is very true. I never worked for BB King but I have opened many shows for him over the course of 20 years or so and really got to know him better when I lived in Las Vegas. It was another privilege and blessing to be in a position to learn something more about my chosen profession."
Examiner: Tell me something that you have never told anyone else?
Laws: "I would like to be a US Congressman who lobbies for the reparations of 40 acres and a Mule still owed to the Descendants of former slaves and also recognition of Native American/African American Peoples indigenous to Texas, Louisiana and Arkansas."(I just thought of that one)
Examiner: Do you have upcoming dates in the area?