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Williams releases Christmas CD

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By Ron Benningfield

Jerry Williams is a man who truly loves Christmas music.

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“There’s such a short time during the year when you get to listen to Christmas music,” the 1978 LaRue County High School graduate who lives on North Lincoln Boulevard said. 

That’s part of the reason he has lengthened his “Christmas season” the past three years by producing a family Christmas album from his home studio.

This year is special for him, though, because just two weeks ago he finished the final mix on “Strings and Bows” a Christmas instrumental arrangement of 12 acoustic melodies that feature traditional instruments including guitar, bass, mandolin and hammered as well as bowed dulcimer.

Fellow musicians Ken Baldwin and Alice Burton joined Williams in the project that includes familiar yuletide musical offerings as well as two originals by Baldwin. An interesting aspect to the album is that Williams put it together with the three instrumentalists never being together at the same time during recording.

Baldwin, a talented artist as well as guitarist and mandolin player, is retired and lives in North Carolina. With ties to LaRue County as his children attended high school here, he visits periodically. Burton, the dulcimer player, is a physical therapist at Physical Therapy Associates in Hodgenville. Baldwin and Burton played in the Kentucky Standard Band based in Bardstown.

The three have been friends since meeting at the Heartland Songwriters’ Association of Kentucky at Picassos Coffee House on Mulberry Street in Elizabethtown. Baldwin moved to Germany only a couple of months after Williams had met him in 1996, but both continued to keep in touch and even collaborated on songs, mostly of a folk genre. 

When Baldwin visited in September 2009, Williams handed him a recorder and a request for him to compose some songs for the Christmas album. When Baldwin returned to Hodgenville, he brought with him two original songs. One, “Lille Julaften Waltz” is Norwegian for “Little Christmas Waltz,” according to Williams who explained that Baldwin’s mother was from Norway.

Baldwin told Williams he had not named the second song, also in three-beat meter. He asked Williams to listen to it and suggest a name.

“There was a part of the song that seemed to say ‘They followed a star,’ each time I listened, so that is what I suggested and Ken said that would be its name,” Williams said.

Using Logic Pro software, Williams, who has produced seven CDs, mixed the individual tones of the instruments, highlighting each at different places in the mix.

“Finding the right place for the instruments to sit in the mix is probably one of the most important parts of producing an album,” he said. “I want the lead instrument to show more presence but not be overbearing.”

An admitted history buff, Williams foresees his next album dealing with songs about the Civil War. He doesn’t foresee his studio turning commercial, however, in the future.

“Recording is a hobby and a passion, and I want it to stay that way,” he said.

Copies of “Strings and Bows,” are for sale at the Lincoln Museum for $15 each.