Folk Singer Dar Williams Gives Heartfelt Performance
Singer/songwriter makes Sanctuary Concert Series debut.
The 44-year-old Williams, who hails from the Hudson River Valley, has been playing the guitar and writing songs since she was 9 years old. Her intimate, from-the-heart style of storytelling has made her a favorite among folk fans. Accompanying Williams on keyboards and lush harmonies was Bryn Roberts.
Beginning with the show's opener "Spring Street" from her album "The Green World," released in August 2000, the audience sat in appreciative silence.
Williams followed it with "The Easy Way" from 2008's "The Promised Land" and told the crowd the song was a bit about the "twisty, turny life that I have enjoyed."
The musician, who studied theater and religion at Wesleyan University, got her start performing in coffeehouses before catching the eye of Joan Baez, whom she accompanied on tour in the early 1990s.
While much of the singer's body of work has eluded the mainstream, Williams has been a darling of public radio since her career began. Before performing a rocking version of "Are You Out There" from the 1997 album "End of the Summer," Williams took a moment to extol the virtues of stations like WFUV that have been introducing people, especially teens, to world music and otherwise hard-to-find artists. She also joked that these stations are "keeping them in the loop" about conspiracy theories, most recently involving microwaves and underwire bras.
From ballads to banter, Williams shared her ups and downs in life, love and music with wry humor and wit, keeping the audience engaged and laughing from start to finish. Chronicling her time in therapy, the mom of two played "After All", which she said gives her an opportunity to share the footholds that helped her up from rock bottom.
Continuing the therapy theme, audience members requested "What Do You Hear in These Sounds", also from "End of the Summer", which Williams called "my pop song about therapy."
Another favorite "When I Was a Boy" from her debut album "The Honesty Room" served as one of the final tunes of the show. Williams explained that the song was born out of "a nice androgynous decade—the '70s", when both boys and girls had the same hairstyle—the Dorothy Hamill or the John Denver.
In addition to writing music, Williams has also authored a directory of natural food stores and restaurants called "The Tofu Tollbooth", inspired by her search for healthy food options during her time on the road touring. She has also written two books for children "Amalee" and "Lights, Camera, Amalee."
Kim Caswell, of Cedar Grove, who attended the show with her daughter, Kris Harvey, said she has seen Williams perform several times previously.
"She just gets better each time," Caswell said. "You feel a part of her. She draws you in with the dialogue of life. During one of her last songs, there were tears in my eyes. She's so real."
"She's got so much going on and she expresses it all so well," Harvey said.