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, Family, Good Music, Classic Cars, Westerns, Model Trains, Good Food, Great Friends.
Motto: Strive To Be The Best That I Can Be And Help Others Along The Way!
More About Bear Williams...
Q. Why did you decide to do a Blues/Americana Roots-Based Recording?
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, Mr. 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 call "Train To Chi-Town". If you're a fan of Blues and Americana Roots music, then won't you come along on this journey with me? I know that we'll have a ball together!
"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)
Emil Hurst contacted your group for my husband Dave's 70th birthday party to be held in Cudahy, WI at Pulaski Inn. The music was FANTASTIC. Everyone had so much fun. Our WHOLE family was in attendance even from Spain. Our family is a fun-loving crazy dancing family. We all loved your music. We loved that you included the whole family especially the kids in the " did you ever see..." song. You even played an Elvis tune for my husband who is a huge Elvis fan. We even got my 89 yr old mother to dance...we had to hold her up, but she danced!! Bear William's Music was the best music we have ever heard & danced to. Bear William's music surely gave our family the best time ever. We thank you from the bottom of our hearts. Wishing you much success Just a FYI: I turn 70 next summer!!!!!! Sincerely, Dave & Christine Renock, Milwaukee, WI
Album Review: Waters Of Love by Bear Williams
(Blues Blast Magazine)
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 Rn’B influences: Ricky Zahariades (Bill Champlin and many others) is on guitar/BV’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. “Should’a 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
Fan Reviews Of The Song “No Love” by Bear Williams
"I like the bluesy feel of the instruments, it is done with a modern feel. Bear Williams has an incredible voice, with great range and tone. The lyrics are interesting and a bit heartbreaking.
The melody feels smooth and has a chill vibe to it. The tempo is good. I would listen to this song again."
"The melody is interesting and tuneful. The vocals are distinctive and soulful. The lyrics are heartwarming and meaningful. The instruments are full, rich and rhythmic. And the sound and production quality is clear and crisp. Overall I like this song."
"It's a good song. It is slightly reminiscent of the theme song to The Wire. I like Bear’s vocals and the lyrics are enjoyable. The backing musicians are all on point and clearly very talented. I also really like the name "Bear Williams." Really enjoyed it."
"Bear Williams has a bluesy voice and he sings with passion. He has a soulful approach and delivers a engaging performance. Instrumentation is basic but yet appealing. It's a simple song but very effective!"
"I like the bass work and the strong, lead vocals from Bear Williams. The lyrics, and the Romantic theme are on point. Very nice track!"
"Great songwriting and singing from Bear Williams."
"This is a nice, bluesy song! Bear Williams has a great vocal range and sound. I liked the guitar work, too. The musicians are certainly talented. The song writing's nice as well!"
"I can see “No Love” playing in the background at a summer family BBQ. It has that summer air quality to it that speaks of watermelon and mosquitoes. Great Blues Track!"
Fan Reviews of The Song “Waters Of Love” by Bear Williams
"I really like the melody of the song, feels nice and easy going. The lyrics are poignant and moving. Bear Williams has a beautiful voice with a nice tone. I like the backup singers on the chorus and the delicate blues guitar. I would definitely listen to more music from Bear Williams."
"Very fine opening, mellow, lazy and great. Bear Williams has a bluesy, soulful voice and a stylish delivery. Instrumentals are bluesy and just right as accompaniment. It evokes an atmosphere and takes you away to another place. Bear Williams has a wonderful voice and it's a winner."
"The vocals are attractive and expressive. The lyrics are meaningful and heartwarming. The melody is tuneful and interesting. The instrumentals are balanced, varied and full. And the sound and production quality is clear and crisp. Overall I like this song!"
"This song has a really nice vibe to it. Bear Williams has a lot talent both vocally and as a songwriter. It feels very natural and original. The song is produced, recorded and mixed really well too."
"I really liked this song not only because of the outstanding voice of Bear Williams but also because of the message of the entire song. It was very comtemplative and relaxing also."
"The thing I liked the most about this song is the story-telling in the lyrics. Bear Williams and his musicians are awesome!"