RiverRoots Music Series

Wild Ponies to return to Madison
to play concert series

The band will also hold a songwriting workshop

RiverRoots Music Series

• 8 p.m. May 18 at Red Bicycle Hall, 125 E. Main St., in Madison, Ind.
• Tickets $10 in advance or $12 at the door.
• Information, tickets at www.RiverRoots.org

(May 2019) – Doug and Telisha Williams, 44 and 42, of Wild Ponies began their musical journey as they grew up in Martinsville, a small town in south Virginia, where they played in a rock and roll cover band during high school. The husband-and-wife duo continued making music after college and began touring professionally full-time in 2006, when they released a couple of albums under their names.
They moved to Nashville, Tenn., in 2011 and began working with producer Ray Kennedy, known for working with artists like Lucinda Williams. Their first album that was recorded in Nashville, “Things That Used to Shine,” was the album where Wild Ponies was established. “This is where we noticed our sound began to change,” said Williams. “We were saying what we wanted to say in the way we wanted to say it.”
Wild Ponies are scheduled to perform at 8 p.m. Saturday, May 18, in Madison, Ind., at Red Bicycle Hall, This will be the last performance in the 2019 River Roots Music Series. This will be Wild Ponies’ fourth time performing at Red Bicycle Hall.
They have also appeared twice at RiverRoots Music & Folk Art Festival, which this year takes place June 7-8 on the Madison riverfront.
“We love Madison. We always talk about in on our tours in different places and love to tell people to visit,” said Williams.
Jane Vonderheide, a RiverRoots committee member, said that she is looking forward to having Wild Ponies back. “They are great songwriters with good energy. They offer heartfelt songs but also provide lots of humor, and they bring a fun and funny stage presence.”

Photo provided

Wild Ponies has performed in Madison, Ind., before and at the RiverRoots Festival as well.

Telisha Williams said that Wild Ponies draws a lot of inspiration from Lucinda Williams’s songwriting and performance style. “She doesn’t hide her accent,” said Williams, who provides vocals and upright bass for the band. Williams also said that Doug, who sings and plays electric and acoustic guitar, finds inspiration in the playing and singing of Willie Nelson.
However, it could be argued that the Williams’ strongest source of inspiration comes from their roots. “Growing up in the Blue Ridge Mountains, we were surrounded by amazing musicians and some of the best players in the world, even though they didn’t play professionally. That’s what we were around all the time,” said Williams. “We’ve written a lot of old time songs in AB style. That seeped in as an influence that we weren’t even aware of until we started to look at it under a microscope.”
Wild Ponies’ most recent record, “Galax,” named after the small town in southwest Virginia where Doug’s grandparents are from, is a tribute to their heritage.
“We brought musicians from Nashville to Galax to play with some of the old-time pickers that we grew up around. We didn’t do any prearranging and wanted to see what happened when they collaborated,” said Williams. The album was recorded live in Doug’s grandparents’ shed, allowing for even more of a tie to their history. “We were honored to be part of that, of bringing together these musicians and recording a moment in time,” she said.
Williams defines Wild Ponies as an Americana band that has a strong folk element. “We like to look at ordinary people and stories for our songs. You can take any person and find extraordinary elements,” she said. “We’re also a little country, and we rock out quite often. We’re very high energy,” she said.
Wild Ponies’ sound began to truly take shape after they moved to Nashville.
“We were surrounded by such a musical community, and we really shifted to a focus on art and the importance of songwriting,” she said.
“You can’t get by on crap songs in Nashville. You have to bring your A-game instrumentally and lyrically. The move has helped us get better at the craft and allowed us to take it more seriously.”
Williams said that songwriting requires being a curious and constant observer. “You have to keep your eyes and ears open. We’re always looking to nature and people for our songs,” she said. “We keep notebooks with us and set aside to dig through what we have and piece them together.”
The couple will also be hosting a songwriting workshop on the day of their upcoming concert in Madison. “The music writing workshop will be for all creatives,” said Tony Novello, RiverRoots committee member. “It’s not just for musicians. We want to encourage all creatives to participate, whether you’re a visual artist, photographer, or poet. We hope to have some nice songs at the end of it.”
The songwriting workshop will be held at Red Bicycle Hall from 4-6 p.m.

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