Chicago's Own Award -Winning
Blues Rock Artist/Producer, Bassist and
Musical Director of Maze Featuring Frankie Beverly
Bear Williams, along with his band members, singers, and support staff all proudly stand with the Black Lives Matter Movement in the fight against the systemic racism and inequality that the Black People in America face each and every day. We celebrate Black lives all along the gender spectrum that have made great and lasting contributions to the fabric of this country. We are using our platform and resources to work towards a world where Black lives are no longer systematically targeted for demise. We affirm our humanity, our strength and our resilience in the face of deadly oppression.
#BlackLivesMatter #Juneteenth #ImSimplyHuman
Artist: Bear Williams
Alias: Larry Kimpel
Location: Chicago, IL
High School: Emil G. Hirsch; Chicago, IL
College: Columbia College; Chicago, IL
Began Performing: 1978 w/ Mavis Staples
& The Staple Singers
Instruments: Vocals, Bass, Guitar
“Robert Cray & Charlie Pride Meets The Rolling Stones"
THE BEAR WILLIAMS BAND:
Bear Williams: Bass, Lead Vocals
Alton Smith: Keys, Vocals
Bill Brickey: Guitars, Vocals
Chris "Chili" Winters: Lead Guitar
Chuck Lacy: Drums, Percussion
Divah Dee: Vocals
Dana Buetow: Vocals
Lucas Bauer: Vocals
Beginnings: The Bear Williams sound begins in Arkansas where his Mother and Father were both born. Some of his earliest musical influences were the Staple Singers, Robert Johnson, Howling Wolf, BB King, and Son House .
Favorite Things: My Wife, My Family, Good Music, Classic Cars, Great Movies, Model Trains, Good Food, & Great Friends.
Bear's Motto: "Strive To Be The Best That I Can Be And Inspire Others Along The Way!"
Q. Why did you decide become a Blues-Rock Artist?
A. In 1976, I attended the funeral services of "Howlin' Wolf" at the A.R. Leak Funeral Home in Chicago. I was just 17 but it was a very impactful moment in time for me. I was just deciding at that time what I wanted to do with my life and I just knew soon after that chance encounter with the late legend that music would indeed become my life's passion.
My high school band director, George Hunter was the teacher that urged not only myself, but all of my classmates to attend this home going service. Mister Hunter didn't let us know who the artist was, but what he did say was "All of you need to go up to Leak's funeral home after school today and pay your respects to a giant in the music industry." I think the seeds of the Blues were somehow planted in me that day.
Throughout my long career I've played many styles of music from Rock to Soul to Jazz to Country to Reggae to Pop. But I must admit, that the one music that brings me the greatest joy inside my soul is that of the Blues and Americana roots genre. Perhaps it's the simplicity and rawness of the music coupled with the complexity and raw emotion of the stories that grabs me and just won't let go. The great B.B. King once said that, "The Blues is soothing to me, just like if someone had a toothache and a dentist gives them some medicine to stop the toothache." That's what the Blues meant to B.B. and I can agree with him wholeheartedly.
My first project, "Waters Of Love" was the beginning of a brand new journey in music for me. Its a path that I am extremely proud and excited to be traveling upon. The follow-up EP is called "Blues Rebel" with another full length CD coming down soon titled "Train To Chi-Town". If you're a fan of Blues Rock music, I know that we'll have a ball together!
BLUES COMMUNITY QUOTES:
"I Love This Band!" Buddy Guy
"Bear Williams has got a warm and gorgeous voice!" Alannah Miles (Grammy Winning Country Artist)
"Bear Williams has a Great CD! Good production, Great songs... He did a super job on this project.
I wish Bear all the best in his career!" Bobby Rush (Grammy Winning Blues Artist)
"Bear Williams is a talented singer with a distinctive, dramatic voice!"
Bruce Iglauer (Founder, Alligator Records)
"Bear's Big Loving Personality shines though when you meet him and also through his music. That's super important for success in this business!" Bridget Kelly - (The Bridget Kelly Band Featuring Tim Fik)
"I like Bear Williams' CD Waters Of Love very much. Bluesy yet soulful, great songs... It's as good as any new blues I've heard. Renny Godier - (CKCU FM Ottawa, Ontario Canada)
"Bear's song "Backyard" is a Blues Groove and a Half!" - Shirley King (B.B. King's Daughter)
"Bear Williams proves himself a supple and expressive vocalist, in command of a beefy baritone textured
with an admirable armanentarium of tonal and emotional colorations." - David Whiteis (Living Blues Magazine)
Blues Blast Magazine CD Review: "Waters Of Love" by Bear Williams
Bear Williams is the alter ego of Larry Kimpel who will be a familiar name from his time as bassist/musical director with (Maze Featuring Frankie Beverly). The name arises from his wife’s pet name for him and he decided to use it for this project. Using a band of experienced LA session players, Bear has created a solid album that mixes soul and R&B influences: Ricky Zahariades (Bill Champlin and many others) is on guitar/background vocal’s, Billy Steinway (Stevie Wonder, Patti Austin) on keyboards and Herman Matthews (Tower Of Power, Kenny Loggins, Teresa James) on drums; Julie Delgado duets on one track and adds B/V’s on others. Bear plays bass, handles lead vocals and wrote all the material apart from one cover, collaborating with Ricky and Billy on some of the songs. Bear has a strong voice and uses it well on both uptempo material and ballads. The ballads in particular take us into familiar soul arrangements, Bear emoting well on tracks like “I Cry” and the title song which has some beautifully restrained playing from the band with acoustic guitar, shimmering piano and electric guitar as Bear bares his soul about his love for his partner. On “I’m Your Friend” Ricky’s guitar adds a hint of country over mainly acoustic backing. Closer to the blues is “Backyard”, a mid-paced groove with the versatile Ricky laying down an extended solo that fits the style well, Bear recognizing the merits of a girl who will lend a hand in the garden! Bear’s brooding bass opens the insistent groove of “No Love” in which he sings of having lots of possessions but “what kind of life is it with no love”. Maybe salvation lies in an “Old Fashioned Girl”, a track which builds up a head of steam as Bear celebrates his new love in fine style, Billy’s keys providing a backdrop to some double-tracked guitar work by Ricky that takes us briefly into Allman's territory, a fine start to the album. “Shoulda' Known Better” is a fast-paced funk/dance tune sure to get the feet moving and mid-tempo soul tune “I’ll Be The One To Last” takes us into Stevie Wonder territory. The pick of the album for this reviewer was the medley of “Dancin’ Shoes/Two Of A Kind” which across 8 minutes blends funk, soul and catchy hooks to great effect. Ricky’s slide features on both halves of the medley and Julie Delgado duets on the lively “Two Of A Kind”. Both songs are attractive and certainly caught the attention of this listener. The sole cover is Rod Stewart and Ronnie Wood’s “Stay With Me” which seems a strange fit with the rest of the album which mainly celebrates Bear’s new found love but, for all its misogynist lyrics, it is an old favorite and the band plays it fairly straight, albeit without the sort of loose and louche feel of The Faces’ original. Overall an enjoyable album with several high points. Not a total blues album but still plenty to enjoy. - John Mitchell