An astounding, in-demand guitarist (Americana Music Association Instrumentalist of the Year), a producer, and creator of timeless songs in both pop motifs and dusty Americana, Will Kimbrough is slowly, but surely, becoming a household word.
15 years ago, Alabama bars would advertise his appearances simply by putting “WILL” on the outside marquee; that’s how well-regarded the Mobile native already was by then in his own backyard. His guitar solos would amaze and his songwriting would captivate. It would take the world years to catch up. Indeed, they’re still doing so.
Ironically, Will probably would have made it by now if TOO MANY talents didn’t shackle him. His guitar playing has made him a sought-after sideman, playing for Jimmy Buffett (who recorded Will’s “Piece of Work” on his License to Chill CD), Rodney Crowell, Todd Snider, Kim Richey, Josh Rouse and many, many others both in the studio and onstage. Will’s prowess on the six-string has led to a fan-produced T-shirt that says “Will Kimbrough is an alien.” It seems to be the only way to explain his mastery. For most folks, that would be enough. And if that were all he had to concentrate on, he’d be well known by now.
But he also produces, including a Grammy-nominated record by Adrienne Young, well-received records by Kate Campbell, and his co-production work on Todd Snider’s acclaimed “East Nashville Skyline”. Indeed, if he concentrated on production alone, perhaps he’d be better known.
But then there is Will Kimbrough the solo artist. His solo records, “This”, “Home Away”, “Godsend” and his upcoming, yet to be titled release betray an immense command of songwriting craft – catchy hooks, haunting, introspective lyrics, and a tasteful resistance to making his own records a showcase merely for his guitar prowess. Once again, if that were all he did, people would know him now.
But he does it all. And if one has faith in the theory of critical mass and cream rising to the top, eventually Will Kimbrough will stand alongside the greats. It’s not like he hasn’t earned it in the traditional way. Will has sweated in clubs nation-and-worldwide from a very early age.
A prodigy who was singing in a soul band at the age of 13 and leading his own punk trio at 15, Will has literally been on the road ever since. From ’84 to ’92, Will and the Bushmen ruled the southern club roost and had their brief, shining MTV moment. Then came a move to Nashville and his next great band, the bis-quits, from ’92 to ’94, who made one critically acclaimed record for John Prine’s Oh Boy! Label. After that he went on the road with Todd Snider for four years. Recently Will was tapped to be Rodney Crowell’s opening act and lead guitarist which demands much of his time; what time in 2005 he had to spare he spent assembling his new band, Daddy, for their debut release. Since then he has either been on the road, in the studio, or with his wife Jessica and two girls, Emma and Sadie.
All good things will happen in due time. Will Kimbrough is one of those good things.