My Fascination with Carol Williams

Here in the San Diego music scene, there's been a lot of buzz over the past couple days about an upcoming show at the Spreckels Organ Pavilion in Balboa Park. In an unexpected pairing of talent, San Diego band Drive Like Jehu (who Pitchfork describes as "post-hardcore") will share the stage with concert organist Carol Williams. And while live music fans are excited by the prospect of seeing this long-dormant band (which features the talented and diverse Rocket From the Crypt frontman, John Reis), it's Carol who fascinates me. I'm including a photo and video which give a glimpse into the personality of this San Diego transplant, and why she's intrigued me since I met her a some years ago during a performance. 

A PR photo of Dr. Carol Williams in front of the Speckels Organ Pavilion. 

A PR photo of Dr. Carol Williams in front of the Speckels Organ Pavilion. 

The organ itself is a star of sorts. According to Balboa Park's website, the unique instrument is one of the world's largest outdoor pipe organs, and has been in San Diego since the 1914 Panama-California Exposition. I myself have been backstage in the Pavilion for a few performances, and have seen interesting old pictures of visitors to the historic cultural site, including Albert Einstein. Since 1917, San Diego has employed a civic organist who is responsible for performing free concerts every Sunday. Carol Williams has occupied this position since 2001.

Albert Einstein at the Organ Pavilion in 1931

Albert Einstein at the Organ Pavilion in 1931

I will miss this show, since I will be playing the Burger Records festival at Los Globos in L.A. with Gary Wilson and the Blind Dates (so much more to come on that amazing event!), but I am eager to hear how this matchup ends up sounding. There are certainly cultural and musical differences that surface in the approach of concert organists when they are collaborating with more contemporary ensembles (especially in regards to time, rhythm, and groove), so the resulting music should be exciting, however it ends up!

Dr. Carol Williams' "Tour Bus" intro.