“Drink all the whiskey and beer you want. The more you drink, the better I’ll sound,” said Laws laughingly at the beginning of his second set.
Laws was born in neighboring Taft, oh so many years ago. He has been making a living playing his guitar and singing the blues since 1986. His first job was right here in Beeville at the Nineteenth-Hole, singing the blues.
Laws was first exposed to music through his family. “My grandfather on my mother’s side owned a couple of beer joints in Kingsville, and it seems like all my family either played piano or keyboards or sang in the choir at church,” Laws said.
A four-year stint in the Navy followed high school, and making the Navy a career was still on his mind when he called the Beeville club to see if they needed a “blues playing expert” to entertain one weekend back in 1986.
Expecting a polite refusal, Laws was astounded that after a brief pause he heard the words that changed his life.
“OK, get your &*# to Beeville and start playing,” said the then owner of the Nineteenth-Hole.
“I’ve been doing it ever since. Twenty-six years, and I’ve traveled the world and played with some of the top names in the business,” Laws said.
Those top names include B.B. King, Etta James, Albert King and others. The likes of Lightning Hopkins, Albert Collins and, of course, B.B. King all had an early influence of the Texas blues artist. He has toured in Europe, China and Japan in his travels, in addition to all across the United States.
“Blues is played with such a passion, with great emotion and intensity. It’s the purest form of music when you can pull all three of those together into a performance,” Laws said.
“It’s an American art form. To be right, it’s got to be raw and powerful.”
Laws’ repertoire on Friday night included everything from Marvin Gaye’s “Let’s Get It On” to the classic “Mustang Sally,” and Laws even does some original songs such as “Make Your Cornbread Moan,” co-authored by the Nineteenth-Hole’s present owner Rosebud Baird, along with many others.
“I just want to keep going, making people happy and forgetting their troubles for a while. That’s when I’ll know I’ve done my job,” Laws said.
“I believe in the old adage from B.B. King, ‘I’ll stop when I drop.’”
Look for many more years of blues from the Willie J. Laws Band.