Williamson’s 40-plus-year career as a harmonica player has taken him from the streets of the Great Brook Valley Housing Projects of Worcester, MA to memorable performances around the world.
Reflecting his ability to play a wide variety of musical styles, Williamson has shared stages with many of the world’s most popular and finest musicians, including Sleepy LaBeef, Joan Osborne and Duke Levine.
As a teen, Williamson played blues after hearing Paul Butterfield’s first album. He also had the good fortune to sit right next to Babe Pino — a local phenom – all through junior and senior high school. At 15, Williamson took part in regular weekly jam sessions at the Lincoln Neighborhood Center and hooked Pino up with a gig at Poli’s, which later became the Ale ‘n Bun. There Pino led a band that featured pianist David Maxwell and guitarist Bob Margolin. Williamson counts his experience sitting in with saxophonist Howie Jefferson, drummer Reggie Walley and organist Al Arsenault at the Kitty Kat as a highlight of his early development.
Williamson would also begin his professional career at the “Bun” (Failin’ Fun) performing with a teenage blues band called Tacoma Street. In the 1970s, Williamson took up the double bass and began classical study with Frank Gallagher of the Boston Pops and jazz work with Joe Holovnia and pianist Alan Mueller.
It was singer-songwriter Dennis Brennan that got Williamson back into playing the harmonica. At a party one night, Brennan handed Williamson an old chromatic and said, “You should be playing this,” which he has been doing ever since.