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Jett Williams at the age of 2.

Jett Williams

An interview with songstress Jett Williams
by Tina Hall
July 2012

Jett Williams came into the world five days after the passing of her father the legendary Hank Williams. Adopted by his mother Lillian who went on to die two weeks later Jett was left a ward of the state of Alabama until she was later adopted. Jett herself made her singing debut in 1989 and was later backed by her father’s old band The Drifting Cowboys. She has since appeared in numerous shows in the U.S, Japan, Holland, Germany, Switzerland, Italy, Spain, and Canada. Her autobiography Ain’t Nothing As Sweet As My Baby sheds light on a life that is hard to imagine. She has undertaken the role of continuing the legacy left by her father with a passion that is highly admirable. Jett can be heard on the soundtrack for the film The Last Ride, which details the last hours of her father’s life. It was an honor to sit down with her and catch up on what had made her who she is today.

Maximum Ink: For those who haven’t read your book and might not be familiar with your story, can you tell us a little about that?
Jett Williams: On October 15, 1952 Hank Williams signed a notarized document admitting paternity and taking custody of his unborn child, boy or girl, healthy or unhealthy. It also provided that his mother, my grandmother, would raise me for the first two years of my life.  Additionally, my mother, who lived with my dad in his mother’s boarding house in Montgomery, AL during the 5 or so months of her pregnancy, got and took a one way ticket to the place of her choice in California.

My father, who prepaid all the expenses for my birth before leaving on his last ride to the concerts he never gave, just didn’t count on dying at 29. He was pronounced dead January 1, 1953; his funeral was on the 4th and I was born before the sun came up on the 6th.

My grandmother insisted on taking and raising me. My mother did not object. A compromised lawyer suggested to her that she should adopt me. She did for the right reasons. He made the recommendation for the wrong ones, because under Alabama law at the time an adopted child could not inherit.

It took my grandmother 2 years to complete the adoption and she died two weeks later. The family no longer wanted me and while she lay in state in the parlor Hank’s sister and his ex-wife Audrey decided to make me a ward of the state and the next day I was an orphan going to foster homes and then later adopted again.

I grew up not knowing who I was, until I met an attorney, Keith Adkinson, whom I later married. He got his hands on the October 15th agreement. I was satisfied at having my questions answered with the bonus of knowing I was wanted and provided for. He was not satisfied and we ultimately sued those motivated by keeping my inheritance from me and for themselves. We prevailed, after 9 years of litigation.


John Waite

An interview with Singer/Songwriter John Waite
by Tina Hall
August 2013

John Waite began his career in 1975 with the band The Babys, followed by his solo career that spawned the timeless hit Missing You (as later recorded alongside songstress Alison Krauss in 2006). He also enjoyed moderate success as the frontman of Bad English. His last studio album Rough & Tumble featured the ballad If You Ever Get Lonely, co-written by Matchbox Twenty’s Kyle Cook. June 11, 2013 saw the release of the iTunes exclusive Live All Access which featured the song live. The track is also being covered by Love and Theft and is currently climbing the country music charts. He can currently be found on tour in select cities.  I was honored to have the chance to sit down and talk with the man behind the music that we all know and love.

Maximum Ink: Can you tell us a little about yourself as a child? What was it like growing up in Lancaster? When did you first discover the power of music? Can you tell us a little about that?
John Waite: Lancaster is an historic town. It has a castle and a river runs through it. I was raised in a cottage facing into the countryside. There were fields and a huge park opposite the front door. My family was very musical, so music came to me pretty naturally. I joined my brother’s band occasionally to sing R and B or whatever we could think up. Country and Western was huge as a kid as it was songs about cowboys. When you’re 5, it’s all cowboys and Indians. Big Bill Broonzy came next with the blues then Hank Williams and then the Shadows; all incredibly exotic for the northwest of England in the 50’s. I wanted to be a cross between Popeye and Hank the Cowboy. (I’m almost there). I discovered the test card on the T.V. had music playing behind it. There was this sort of Magnificent Seven chord change in the middle. Blew my mind! I used to sit there with my brother waiting for it to come ‘round.

MI: Why do you think music has been such an important entity in society throughout the ages?
JW: I’m not really religious but defiantly spiritual. Music is the closest thing to religion in my life. The only god in this world everyone believes in is money! Frightening, but true. Music is free! Always was.


Johnny Winter

Johnny Winter

by Tina Hall
August 2010

Johnny Winter is best-known as a legendary blues guitarist, singer, and songwriter.He was rated 74 on the Rolling Stone list of “100 Greatest Guitarist of All Time.” His recording career began at the age of 15.He performed at Woodstock with is brother Edgar joining for two songs during the nine song set.He is also an inductee of the Blues Foundation Hall of Fame.

Maximum Ink: Do you think it was helpful to your future career as a musician to have your parents nurture your interests at an early age?
Johnny Winter: Oh yeah. We sang together. Daddy would teach me songs from his younger days. Most of those songs were from the 1920s and 1930s.


Karen Wheelock

Karen Wheelock

Singer-Songwriter Karen Wheelock takes Center Stage with new EP
by John Noyd
January 2015

With bold, genuine statements like, “Music is my life,” followed by a half-embarrassed laugh, Madison singer-songwriter Karen Wheelock exudes a warm and bubbly authenticity. Casually sincere while stylishly attired, Wheelock’s sweet demeanor hides a driving thirst to experience life whole-heartedly; reaping a rich resume that includes on-line magazine editor, half of an acoustic duo, coordinating a benefit album, singing at nursing homes and tackling other musician’s promotion duties. A shy person who blossoms on record and stage, she is a hard-worker behind the scenes who recently managed to write and produce a showcase EP, “Imaginary Girl.” Full of heartfelt writing and a strong voice that trails easily off into a whisper or blossom into robust proportions, “Imaginary,” reflects Karen’s all-in aspirations, sentimental melancholy and eager self-reflection.

Grit and determination comes naturally to Karen, who grew up working the 240 acre family farm, but patience and compassion grew after encountering Alzheimer’s through her grandmother and mother. A demure dynamo that started public singing in kindergarten choirs and continued throughout college, Wheelock always was a team-player who, “likes to keep it real.” A childhood dream of becoming a back-up singer took a pragmatic turn when Karen became a Theater and Communications major at Beloit College, but as she branched out into playing guitar, recording her performances for YouTube and exploring her feelings through song-writing, the solo route seemed a natural next step. That it at times took the form of music therapy was unexpectedly fitting for someone with Ms. Wheelock’s community spirit.

A Lords of Trident pin tacked onto her guitar strap and a Leonard Cohen song on her lips, Karen is a ravenous music fan with tastes ranging from punk to folk. She says she likes, “honest music,” and can often be found hugging the stage and chatting with the bands after their set. She solicited advice from indie-rocker Cary Brothers and even struck up a correspondence with art-pop singer Meiko, whose introspective odes and DIY lifestyle matches Wheelock’s positive outlook and gung-ho attitude. Encouraged to express herself in song, Karen’s first attempts were less than spectacular, particularly when a love song she wrote for her college guitar-playing boyfriend was met by a luke-warm response that inspired her to break off the relationship but also challenged her to write more, better songs.

Ever the explorer, Karen has learned a lot playing solo, but yearns to be a part of a band. “I think the whole purpose of sharing music with each other is to connect and relate to each other,” she says, “and besides, it just feels nice to be onstage with other people!” She wants to sharpen her song-writing and expand into piano, admitting she tends to sing sad songs despite her cherry exterior. Finally, Karen would like to meet Dave Grohl of the Foo Fighters; an ardent admirer half her life, she likes to dream big and, like the songs she chases, she likes to keeps things interesting, focused and full of feeling. For more information, check out


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Czech Republic's Plastic People of the Universe to play the Madison World Music festival

Madison World Music Festival 2008

by John Noyd
September 2008

Spread over two consecutive weekends in mid-September, Madison’s global gathering touches every point on the compass across Madison in every creative fashion imaginable. Syrian singer GAIDA, Indian guitarist PRASANNA and the psychedelic dub of Turkey’s BABA ZULA perform, dance, lead workshops and colorfully flavor UW’s campus, the Annex and the Willy Street Fair.


Max Ward in his 20's

Max Ward

Maximum Ink's namesake
by Dan Bullock
April 2011

It has been 15 years since Max Ward’s own voice fell silent, but his passion lives on thru those he taught, befriended, and whose lives he touched.  Max did not live or teach by the boundaries of a certain genre, age, or musical taste and it showed by the diverse and talented performers that are grateful to have worked with him. Some of the names and groups on his roster include Willy Porter, Bradley Fish, Bob Westfall, Juli Hinds (Magic 98), Common Faces (Asa), Reptile Palace Orchestra (Anna), Rok Sally and Mission Blue (Dan and Mike), Jerry Pero (Bounty Hunter Music), and more. From the spoken word, to gospel, to country, to hard rock, Max found a way to connect to all people and improve their potential and performance.

When asked about Max, Willy Porter said, “He was easily one of the greatest teachers I have ever come across in any discipline. He was able to focus immediately on what I was doing well, and help me find more range, depth of tone and dynamic range without straining physically. He talked about how the character of the singer’s voice defines the meaning of the lyric and thus the song— simple stuff, yet infinitely Zen. He taught me things I’ll work on for the rest of my life. I miss him very much.”  Willy’s comments are a true testament to Max’s ability to hold the line on the classical and technical elements of singing, but harvest the unique character within each voice.


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Guitarist Michael Williams - photo by Kevin Estrada

The Michael Williams Band

An interview with Blues Guitarist Michael Williams
by Tina Hall
April 2012

Michael Williams has been labeled “the one to watch” by guitar enthusiasts and critics alike.His smooth styling that appeals to both blues and rock n roll fans alike, has made him one of the best new blues artists of our time. The Michael Williams Band is consisted of Williams(guitar and vocals), Gerald Tugboat Turner II(bass), Darin Watkins(drums),and Ryan Shea Smith(keyboard). Most recently they have opened for such legendary acts as George Thorogood,Buddy Guy, Robert Cray,  Eric Johnson, and Jonny Lang. Their latest release Fire Red was produced by Eddie Kramer(Jimi Hendrix,The Rolling Stones, KISS, Buddy Guy, and Led Zepplin).

Maximum Ink: Can you tell us a little about what you where like as a child? What is your fondest memory from that time?
Michael Williams: I was an out-going kid who always found himself getting into trouble! My fondest memory as a kid would be sitting on the old railroad ties and singing Whitney Houston’s “I believe the children are our future”  with my sister Camille.

MI: Your musical roots run deep, what was it like being surrounded by music at such an early age? Do you think you would be a musician today if not for the early influence?
MW: Music was bred into me at a young age I recall watching Stevie Ray from side stage as a kid night after night. My father would bring me on stage and let me play “manishboy” (Muddy Water’s) at age ten! I don’t know what path I would have taken if not for the great influences of my childhood (smiles). I owe it to my father for leading me in the right direction at an early age.


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