Until next month, Yasmine Williams begins its European tour with several festivals, including Glastonbury Festival (UK), Roskilde Festival (DK), Best Kept Secret (NL), Black Deer Festival (UK), Elbjazz (DE) and Primavera Sounds (SP). While in the UK, Yasmin will be touring with another guitarist Gwenifer Raymond which also has other dates in the UK, including dates with Ryley Walker and the Leigh Folk Festival.
One of the most beautiful and original albums of 2021 was that of Yasmin Williams Urban driftwood. It’s not often you hear music that an artist has appropriated. Behind them there is usually a guiding light or chain of influences that underlies and shapes their sound. For Williams, she was raised on a diet of R&B, hip-hop, smooth jazz and the go-go funk of Chuck Brown. Not exactly acoustic reference material, although her use of the kalimba, which she attaches to the body of her guitar, was inspired by memories of her early childhood watching Maurice White of Earth Wind and Fire perform a kalimba solo. Williams has a sincere flippant presence and is more than capable of establishing a rapport with her audience that draws you in and accentuates the warmth of her performance.
Percussion is an integral part of the music of Yasmin Williams, who alongside the kalimba includes the percussive elements of tap dancing and finger percussion on guitar strings – mastery of which dates back to her console playing Guitar Hero.
Although an instrumentalist, the music and the title of his album (Urban driftwood) carries a message. His family comes from an urban background. The term “driftwood” can be interpreted in many different ways, from the unique journey she took, carried away by the currents and events of life, to the treatment of black communities. In a recent interview, she talked about how many people love black culture, which is hugely influential but doesn’t get the respect it deserves – seen as ‘rubbish or something not really necessary…’
While there may have been an absence of a guiding light for Williams, in terms of inspiration, she is like a beacon for budding young players and you can’t ask for more than that.
Another guitarist and banjo player who opposes the white male trend is a Welsh-American primitivist. Gwenifer Raymondwho burst onto the scene in 2018 with his debut album You were never really a dancer via one of his favorite record labels (and one of ours) Tompkins Square.
His gateway to music can be traced from Nirvana’s first “Nevermind” cassette to punk bands The Fall and Butthole Surfers and his time playing in punk bands at shows in the valleys.
She then discovered pre-war blues players such as Mississippi John Hurt, which encouraged her to pursue the guitar. She also became familiar with Appalachian banjo players like Dock Boggs and Roscoe Holcomb. She later sought out a guitar teacher in Cardiff who taught her the alternate thumb style she often uses. She began to write her own instrumentals, which, thanks to her tutor, led her to discover the world of Primitive guitar and the likes of John Fahey. In fact, through Josh Rosenthal at Tomkins Squareshe played a few gigs in Fahey’s hometown of Takoma Park (including the community art space known as Rhizome DC) for The thousand incarnations of the rose in 2018. This 3-day music festival brought together for the first time some of the finest acoustic guitar and fingerstyle banjo players from all eras of the American Primitive/Guitar Soli movement.
In her early days, Glenn Kimpton noted how she used subtle repetition and drone play while her cyclical techniques created a hypnotic quality that rocked the listener before shaking them. As he said, “It’s a smart game and a lesson in restraint that some players have a career to find.” Gwenifer Raymond is certainly not short on dedication when needed; she has a doctorate in astrophysics.
His 2020 follow-up, Strange Lights on Garth Mountain, (the title revealing her Welsh roots and perhaps a love of science fiction), saw her expand her rooms, leaving “room to breathe and Gwen time to flex and explore”. Something she achieves in a monumental leap:
“Although You were never really a dancer was an accomplished debut, it always felt like Gwen was showing off her skills and taking her cap off the players who helped influence and shape her sound. strange lights feels like a huge leap forward; each note sounds original and creative. This space in the songs is also essential for the playback of the album. There are still plenty of Gwen’s frenetic punky choices on set, but it’s juxtaposed with moments of calm (touched with menace of course; it’s still a Gwenifer Raymond album). Glenn Kimpton, Folk Radio.
Both Gwenifer and Yasmin create soundscapes that are very personal to them, brimming with emotional energy. The contrast in their music will make for a truly compelling tour. Yasmin’s music has this expansive feel close to spiritual jazz, a meditative quality that overwhelms you, while Gwenifer’s music has an almost primal energy that is both exciting and uplifting.
They transcend language and boundaries and have helped redraw the boundaries of the acoustic world. It will definitely be a must visit.
Below are their joint dates alongside the other UK and European dates they have lined up.
Yasmin Williams & Gwenifer Raymond United Kingdom Dates
mon 13 june – Brighton (United Kingdom) – Komedia Studio – tickets
Wed 15 Jun – Bristol (UK) -The Wardrobe Theater – tickets
Fri, June 17 – Birmingham (United Kingdom) – Kitchen Garden Cafe – tickets
mon 20 june – Leeds (United Kingdom) – Brudenell Social Club – tickets
Wed 22 June – Manchester (UK) – YES (Pink Room) – tickets
Gwenifer Raymond Dates
Thu 16 June – Edinburgh (United Kingdom) – Hidden Door Festival – tickets
Sun 26 June – Leigh-On-Sea (UK) – Leigh Folk Festival (with Treetop Flyers) – tickets
July 28-31 – Cambridge Folk Festival – https://bit.ly/CFF2022
July 28-31 – WOMAD-Festival – https://womad.co.uk/
Mon Aug 29 – Glasgow (UK) – Broadcast (with Ryley Walker) tickets
Tue 30 Aug – Leeds (UK) – Brudenell Social Club (with Deerhoof + Ryley Walker) tickets
Wed 31 Aug – Birmingham (United Kingdom) – Hare & Hounds (with Ryley Walker) tickets
Thu 01 Sep – Guildford (UK) – The Boileroom (with Ryley Walker) tickets
Fri 02 Sep – Exeter (UK) – Phoenix (with Ryley Walker) tickets
Sun 04 Sep – End of the Road Festival (UK) (EXHAUSTED)
Dates by Yasmin Williams
Fri June 3 – Quasimodo, Berlin, Germany – tickets
Saturday, June 4 – ELBJAZZ 2022, Hamburg, Germany – tickets
Wed June 8 – Primavera Sound 2022, Sant Adrià De Besòs, Spain – tickets
Fri June 10 – Best Kept Secret 2022, Hilvarenbeek, Netherlands – tickets
Sat June 11 – Yasmin Williams, Paris, France – tickets
Tuesday June 14 – St Matthias Church, London – tickets
Sunday June 19 – Black Deer Festival, Tunbridge Wells – tickets
Thu June 30 – Roskilde Festival, Roskilde, Denmark – tickets