14 April 2010
1/4/10 SWEETS • CHICAGO • REPORT
Double click on this photo for a slide show of the Chicago Launch Party for Sweets!
HOT SCOOP! ANDRE WILLIAMS TO NYC POETRY PROJECT On the heels of his wildly successful Chicago book launch reading, Andre has been invited to read from his landmark new novel SWEETS at the esteemed Poetry Project at St Mark’s Church, NYC. Few are considered, fewer are called for this great honor. Top secret guest details on this big-big Feb. 5 event will be in our New Years Day newsletter! Andre Williams' fiction paperback SWEETS debuted in Chicago on Nov. 14. The event was organized by local artist/DJ and Andre Williams acolyte John Phillips, who tapped the wonderful Phyllis Musical Inn for the book debut, an exceedingly homey neighborhood tavern with an intimate stage and original musical murals and decor. Chicago was chosen for the debut reeding because it is where Andre chose to set the scene for his stories, where he wrote SWEETS, where he spent his pre-teen years, and where he now resides. With the book hot off the press, I hit-git-and-split for the Holyland (birthplace of Vin Saxon a/k/a Ron Haydock) for what was to be a truly memorable and historic evening. This was the night that our hero Andre Williams (he of Jail Bait, Greasy Chicken, Mozelle, Bacon Fat, and Cadillac Jack fame, to name but a fraction of his musical accomplishments) was to appear in public for the first time as a writer, an author, a scribbbler of acrid prose. None of us, Andre included, knew which way the pendulum would swing. Would people be interested? Would they come to listen to mere words, without music? And if they came, could Andre hold their interest with stories concocted in drug rehab, while his mind was in bedlam? You see, SWEETS, is an odd little book, the title tale containing a multitude of plot lines that revolve around a teenage girl with a survival instinct to rival even Andre's. It was written a rebours, literally against the current, with Andre fighting to grasp and develop entertaining and surprising elements, grappling with the task of setting it down by hand-- all the while tormented by addiction. Andre Williams has unmatched perseverence, an unkillable sense of humor, and a will to do it all. That said, let's get back to the night in question. John and I got to the venue early to set the stage up, and even then, hours early, there was a gaggle of fans gathering. By the time we returned for John to begin pre-show DJing (as "Mr Wiggles"), Phyllis's was already getting crowded with thrill-seekers, garden variety lushes, and loads of local musicians, record execs, newspapermen, and full on rock & soul stars, all curious and excited to see and hear Andre. By 9:30, the joint was rampacked. R&B slinger Bo Dudley showed up dolled and decked head to toe in electric blue sateen, and Lords/Amboy Dukes lead singer John Drake held court with his fiancee Mary Ann. Top cat guitar slinger Danny Doll Rod of the Gories and Demolition Doll Rods had jetted in from Detroit to support the man of the day. When Andre arrived, there was much whooping, as the sea of people parted, to allow him passage to the stage. Dressed to the nines-- two tone shoes, red silk tie, impeccably tailored suit and hat-- he began the beguine, slowly introducing himself, all the while rolling his manuscript into a tight scroll. He would not refer to it again, choosing instead to ad lib an hour-long, jaw dropping spoken word production, all the while, punctuation the air with the rolled scroll as though he were orchestrating our emotions with a baton. Andre began by describing how he had fallen into the role of paperback writer, about street life as real life, about going into rehab one mo' time again, about molding real deal memories into fiction. He then began an incredible-- alternately funny and heartbreaking-- telling of SWEETS, describing the characters in great detail, and playing the x-rated segments a la Red Foxx. This was an amazing evening, one to cherish as the night that Andre Williams reinvented himself and... us. I'd say he received a standing ovation, but everybody was standing throughout anyway. Regardless, the crowd went crazy, and Andre stayed to speak with fans, sign books, and cut the massive cake that was emblazoned with the book cover-- talk about Sweets! Mr Wiggles pumped the sounds deep into the night, the dance floor packed with stompers wailing to the beat of Andre Williams' records, celebrating the life of one of our key figures. Congrats, Andre Williams and long may you reign! See you in New York City in February! PS The next day, John and I visited Bo Dudley at his boss pad. Dig the pix.