Where there’s WiL, there’s a way. Even during a global pandemic.
Vancouver Island singer-songwriter and guitarist WiL — long known for his incredible string-breaking performances — was planning to spend much of 2020 on the road, going across Canada doing what he does best. Unfortunately, due to COVID-19, WiL had to postpone all of his spring tour dates. But to make up for it he’s releasing the album Live at the Blue Frog on May 1 — and premiering today on Tinnitist.
As you can imagine, some shows are just better than others. But when WiL, drummer Keith Gallant and guest guitarist Shaun Verreault of Wide Mouth Mason took the stage on this night in October 2019, the stars aligned in an unforgettable performance. And when the awesome crew from the White Rock, B.C. venue and recording studio Blue Frog sent over the footage the next day, it was an instant no brainer to create a live album out of the show.
“I knew going into it that the Blue Frog show was being recorded and streamed live,” says WiL, born William Mimnaugh. “I was unconcerned with that part of it; what I was excited about was having a rare chance to perform with Shaun. We’ve done a number of co-headline shows in the past and we even wrote a song together, If You Want Me Too. He’s so good at what he does that he can just come in unrehearsed and just slay.”
He’s not alone. With a voice that conjures names like Ray LaMontagne and Ben Ottewell of Gomez, WiL writes songs that push the boundaries of what is considered contemporary folk to include elements of old-school country, pop, rock and blues, reflecting his early influences. Not one for school, WiL‘s youth consisted of skateboarding and holing himself up listening to music — everything from the country twang of Chet Atkins to the raucous punk of The Sex Pistols. But it wasn’t until 1998, after hearing the flagrant use of an overdrive pedal on an acoustic guitar in Neutral Milk Hotel’s In an Aeroplane Over the Sea, that he really started refining and defining his sound and playing style, one that would capture the attention of label execs in 2003. Signing to EMI shortly after saw the re-release of his debut indie album Both Hands launching his career as a songwriter and touring musician.
Known for playing mostly with ‘just a drummer’, WiL mesmerizes listeners with his unusual strumming technique while creating lush, fat and full acoustic guitar sounds that have become a signature of the live experience. It has taken the better part 20 years to get there and he’s still not done. Fastidious. Yes. Meticulous. Yes. A.D.D.? Probably, but it’s precisely this that has landed him some pretty cool gigs. Standouts include opening for soul legend Mavis Staples, Canadian indie darling Feist and one of his music heroes, Ray LaMontagne.
Live at the Blue Frog will be available on Spotify, Apple Music/iTunes, and other digital retailers and streaming services on May 1, with footage from the show streaming on WiL’s website ibreakstrings.com. For more on WiL, follow him on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.