I can remember the first time I went to Phil and Vivian William’s house. I was an aspiring musician, and the house was full of sound, of music, of laughing. It was beautiful and intimidating. Everywhere I looked I saw amazing artifacts, and in every corner, violin cases. There were many friendly faces, some of whom I got to know over the years. There was every manner of instrument; and if we were lucky, (we usually were) someone would be playing the parlor grand piano.
I know that over the years, besides these well attended jams that met every first Wednesday of the month in this living room; there were recording sessions, practices and get-togethers of every size. Musicians would come to visit from all over the world, and find good music and fun at Phil and Vivian’s house.
This summer, I managed to be there for an amazing recording session featuring Isaac Callender and four of his amazing guitar playing friends; Gary Lee Moore, Rich Levine, Pete Martin and Rod Anderson. There was so much energy in the room, that I realized it had been reverberating like this from the sounds of strings for over 40 years. This was the last recording session to ever be done at Vivian’s house.
A most memorable day for me was when Barbara Lamb came and it was just Vivian and Barbara playing intense beautiful music. I was afraid if I blinked, I’d wake up, the fiddling was so amazing. They played harmonies back and forth, up and down, and challenged each other the way they have been doing for almost half a century.
Even though the energy at Vivian’s house was mostly in that living room, the rest of the house is a feast for the eyes.
Vivian’s kitchen was filled with light and a wonderful collection of cast iron kitchenware. The centerpiece is a warm wooden table that has always been full of offerings brought by the many friends that came to the jams and practice sessions.
If you were lucky enough to visit during the daytime, the view was wonderful, facing east and looking over Lake Washington, here is looking out the dining room window.
Of course if you were a closer friend or maybe a relative, you got to go upstairs. If you got as far as the landing between the first and second floors, you already were treated to a glorious view. With a sunny window, a rocking chair and a harp, it looked like a place that you could just hang out and absorb the energy coming from the living room or just a scene from a magical children’s book.
Phil collected musical instruments you could see this when you entered his office; the walls were covered with every strange kind of guitar, banjo and other curiosities. I visited him in his office once for an interview of sorts, this was very impressive. I felt very humble in that chair.
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