This page is a work in progress. Willie had close relationships with so many, and spent hours talking with friends about film, books, travel and so much more. If you have a particular memory about a “Willie fav” to include here we’re all ears! Please drop us a line, title or recommendation via the Contact section. Thank you for your help.
Everyone knows film was a love of Willie’s life. The University Film Society and the Trylon were his living rooms.
Willie was a voracious reader, having several books going at a time. Following is a list of the authors he read and enjoyed.
The above list (thank you Elka!) is really just the tip of the iceberg, and we can’t begin to list particular book titles he loved, but we thought it would be fun to list here some of the books he recommended via a “BOOKFACE” section of his gig promo email.
Chester Himes: Plan B
Orhan Pamuk: The Red Haired Woman; also A Strangeness in My Mind
Anton Treuer: Warrior Nation - a History of Red Lake
Otto Friedrich: City of Nets
Elena Ferrante: 4 book Naples series: My Brilliant Friend; Story of a New Name; Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay; The Story of the Lost Child
Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz: Loaded: A Disarming History of the Second Amendment; also An Indigenous People's History of The United States
- The Nation crossword puzzles
- The river / Riverside Park
Selections from Willie's Newsletters
Click a quote for full text
I got comrades all right - and it sure feels good to be up there blowin' with my comrades - my friends - blowin' along with me. I love playing all by myself. to be sure'. It's more ...intimate, maybe*; more personal. But playing with a good band has always been my favorite way to do music. The interaction, the power - pure joy to me! The people I have with me now - Michael Velasquez, Max Ray, Jimmy Kugl, Scott Snyder, Larry Sims, Johnny Iden, Matt Senjem , and sometimes Barb Brynstad - are, all together, a wonderful unit, and all great soloists! For me, nothin' but fun. - A lot of smiles on stage when we're playin'! And a lot of grinning will be going on this Saturday, December 2nd at our favorite spot, Crooner's [Lounge and Supper Club !] The vibe is right at Crooner's, y' know - probably 'cause the place is so dang comfortable! The folks who come out to Crooner's are a warm, friendly bunch''; they really make the music happen for us! Crooner's is the nicest thing to happen for twin cities music in quite a while - come and join us; let's celebrate life!
And let's not forget that other great time, Blue Monday at the Richfield American Legion - We definitely groove these Mondays away the right way - in blissful relaxation. Lots of very good players and singers come by, lots of dancing, a great way to ease into the week!
Saturday, December 2: Willie and the Angel Heads at Crooner's, 6161 Hiway 65 [Çentral Av. 3 blocks north of 694]. Music starts at 8 pm
Monday, December 4: The ol' Berloo Monday Jammster at the Richfield American Legion, 6501 Portland Av. S. - around 7 pm. Bring yer kazoo and jam with us!
I mentioned re-reading all the Chester Himes detective novels - I finally got ahold of the one I hadn't read, the final book Himes wrote, called Plan B. this is his planned final book featuring "Coffin Ed" Johnson and "Grave Digger " Jones. Quite different from the others, it's kind of serious. There's still Himes' fabulous action and pacing. but the plot and tone of the book don't have the playfulness that the others have. Tho there's still quite a bit of humor; I'd call it, perhaps, black humor. Highly recommended.
The Red Haired Woman - Orhan Pamuk - Pamuk's latest is, once again, quite brilliant, but I think I liked A Strangeness in My Mind more
Warrior Nation - a History of Red Lake - Anton Treuer - The great Native American [and native Minnesotan] historian does it again. He writes about things we should all know. The history is often sad, of course, but ultimately, you'll feel better for having read it, and, you'll know a lot more afterwards'
City of Nets - Otto Friedrich - A history of Hollywood in the forties, This is some of the most fun I've had in a long time. But it's also a serious book, covering in detail things like the beginnings of HUAC, the plight of all the Europeans [many of them quite famous] seeking refuge from Hitler, the effect of the emergence of TV, etc. - YAYA!
DETECTIVES: I've just discovered Denise Mina, a very good Scottish crime writer. Very intelligent, She's just more than a little different from the rest, as any good writer should be. She's not in my pantheon yet, but close.
Aw Rite! Love Life! - Willie
* Solo gig at the Schooner on Dec. 27th
As much as I hate to do it, I'm reduced to begging for money to complete my latest album project. People think of me as a "bluesman [which I s'pose I am], a "rock & roll" guy [Which I am], a piano guy, etc. The one thing, though, that really turns my wheels is writing songs; always has - and when a person writes songs, one of the things you want to do is get 'em out there so people can hear them. I've been blessed with many opportunities for performing my stuff live, and believe me, I'm grateful for that. But getting the songs out to the larger world seems important, too - plus, there's the idea of a somewhat permanent physical record of your creative efforts. Like, "What did Willie do while he was here?"
Many people have praised my songwriting. some even claiming that I'm the "best songwriter ever to come out of Minnesota". I don't know - What do I know? - But I like my stuff quite a bit... If I look back at all the tunes, I don't think there are many, if any, that I would say I should have trashed - ya have to like what you do, of course, or why do it?
The new album is full of my usual thinking: There are songs about ecocide, social crises, revenge of the earth, apocalypse, etc., and of course, love. Sounds a bit "down"? I s'pose, but the world we live in is pretty down right now - don't you think? - and, there's a lot of hope in the songs, too. The album will have everything "from folk to funk", as I often say when people ask what kind of music I play - Lotta dancy stuff, some just listening and thinking stuff. It's definitely an Angel Headed Hipsters record; the guys sound great. In fact, we've been playing some of the tunes in our live shows already, And I've been playing a couple of them on my solo gigs
So, there it is: Willie, of all people, publicly begging !! I will say, tho, that if you've liked my music, you're gonna like this album. -Thanks, Willie
PS: I don't have them quite finished yet, But there are 2 new songs that I'm thinking of offering as a bonus to people who contribute, say, $100.00 or more - [there are now 10 songs on the album, so you;d get 12!] I'm not quite prepared to actually make this offer yet, but it looks like it will be in the works. I'll keep you posted on this. [All contributers get the CD. of course]
PPS: we're tossing around the idea of making some actual records, besides the usual CDs; records are a bit more expensive to make, though, so I'm trying to take a little survey to see whether anybody would actually buy an LP record. If you want, let me know back here what you think. Again, thanks
PPPS: Just got a gig for tomorrow nite: The Public. 229 E. 6th Street, St Paul [kind of the edge of Lowertown, take 94 to the 7th St. exit, then right] Would you believe it ? I'm playing with Paul Metsa! Starts at 8.30
Yes, we will definitely be kicking off 2018 with some rollicking, rock-a-ling ba-lews out at the Legion! We'd tossed around the notion of maybe not doing the jamm cuz "its a holiday"; "...football"; bla bla bla; finally realizing there was nothing better to be doing on the first day of the new year than celebrating with some groovin' blues. So, Yeah! We be there! [Man, I love singing the blues !] When the football and the hangover start to get tiresome, hitch up the ol' wagon and make it out to the Legion for a little taste and some good foot-pattin' - Let's get this year off to the right start! YAYA!
Monday, January 1: Berloo Monday Jam, Richfield American Legion, 6501 Portland Av. S. 7 pm
We all got the blues these days. The best thing I've learned about the ol' blooz is: You got to express 'em! It sure has helped me to get along the rocky road... Just try it - Holler at the top of your lungs about the crap that's troubling you. Yea - keep on hollering for a while. You're gonna feel better! If you'd rather not go around hollering all day long [There are a lot of things to yell about!], You can do it vicariously, thru a professional - like me! This method works pretty good, too. The blues, and the problems that cause 'em, are pretty universal, so don't worry, I'll hit on your particular angst somewhere along the line. Also, the blues music is good for dancing... dancing is another great form of expression - Yaya! Let's get to dancin' and hollering more! What the hell, we got to do something!
Monday, January 4: Blue monday Jamster, Richfield American Legion, 6501 Portland Av. S. Richfield. 7ish pm
All love, all the time, Willie
We're expecting some young aspiring musicians to be jamming with us tomorrow at the Blue Monday Jammer in Richfield - Some school person is supposed to be bringing them - These kind of encounters usually have mixed effects: some big surprises, some train wrecks, some confusion. For those sitting out in the bar listening, it's big fun. For us ... more "mature" musicians trying to direct the show a little - on stage - It can be a bit trying sometimes. I expect, if the kids show up, they'll be mostly guitar players. Brats with Strats, we call 'em. I'm sure, from past experience, There'll probably be a lot of flashy lead playing, but maybe not so much in the rhythm guitar playing. Then, who knows there may be a great young drummer or bassist, or even a terrific singer among 'em. I'm too old to worry about a kid showing me up; not much can embarrass me any more - So, I'm expecting to be having a lot of fun. After all it's the good ol' blues, no? Come on out and share the experience, huh?
Then Friday, the 16th, The Angel Headed Hipsters will be back at the way cool Lee's Liquor Lounge. And dig this: In an effort to get a few more people to show up, we're changing the hours [!]. I realized that a lot of the other gigs these days start at 7 or 8 or thereabouts, and that certain people like it a little earlier like that. [I ain't gonna say nothing about... you know, age, or nothing like that...] So - we're going to be hitting the bandstand at 7.30 instead of 9 pm. I sure hope it works, 'cause we all love playing at Lee's, and would like the gig to continue, which won't happen if we can't get a few more souls in the joint. Whether the crowd is scant or humongous, The Hipsters always have a ball at Lee's - Last time we played Lee's, we all thought we sounded the best we'd sounded in a long time - And that's saying a lot, to me - A nice joint with a big dance floor, comfy seating, booze, and early !
Monday. February 12: Berloo Moonday Jamster, Richfield American Legion, 6501 Portland Av. S. 7 pm or so Yaya!
Friday, February 16: The Hipsters at Lee's Liquor Lounge, 11th & Glenwood [just west of downtown Hennepin Av.] - 7.30 PM!! Yaya YAya
Okey dokey - Love always. Willie
It'll be raining blues on Blue Monday, May 7 out to the Legion. Got a guitar? a harp? a bass? a voice? Make it out to the Legion and jam with us - I won't bite your head off, no matter what scandalous things you've heard - Many a hotshot youth, and many weathered veterans, have shared the stage with us at Blou Monday. Amateurs to pros, we let everyone get up and have their say. The ol' blues is communication, soil to soul - That't the thing I love most about it - There''s nothin' like screamin' and hollerin' your feelings out at the world; it's always worked for me - makes you feel better, y' know! [Dancing helps, too!]
Monday, May 7: Bleue Mondaa Jammer, Richfield American Legion, 6501 Portland Av. S. Richfield. We hit around 7.30
That's it for now - [I should be doing a BookFace, but I can't remember the titles of all the books i beenreading. A little deep memory xercise will help]
OK, Love to all [real] life, Willie
The Hook'n Ladder is going to close Wednesdays for the summer - I'd hoped to keep doing the first Wednesday for a while longer 'cause it's been such a great gig - I'm told that we may continue when fall hits. I've been totally gassed by the warm response from all the warm people on these little shows at the Hook. That warmth and intimacy and friendly feeling of community is something that seems to be rather lacking in much of our lives these days...[at least in my life] So, anyway, It's not quite over yet - I be at the Hook this Wednesday June 6. Been working on a couple tunes you may've never heard - I'm gonna be havin' a good time - I hope you'll come down and be part of our little community of love.
And don't forget the ol' be-lews jamski this Monday out to the Richfield Legion. we have a real ball out there on the first 2 Mondays every month. - Lots of talented music heads join us in jammin' down the blues at the Legion - and dance? OO-WEE! - the floor shakes on those Mondays - I'm telling you! It't a big, comfy room, drinks, food - Add another day to the weekend; spend Blue Monday with us at the Legion!
Monday, June 4th: Blue Monday Jamm Seshun at the Richfield American Legion, 6501 Portland Av. S. 7 or 7.30 pm
Wednesday. June 6th: Willie plays solo at the Hook 'n Ladder, Minnehaha just S. of Lake street [the old firehouse] 8 pm.
That be it! Everybody enjoy this wonderful summer - while we can! - Love always, Willie
As Fats Domino sang it: "Blue Monday - How-ah-ee Blue Monday - Got to work like a slave all day" I'll be working Blue Monday, too - If you call it work, that is, playing and singing Da Bluz. Ya, we'll be out to the Richfield American Legion with the ol' Blue Monday Blues Jam. When I was down in New Orleans, I heard that Fats Domino would sit on his front porch and greet people coming by, and sometimes offer them his home cooked food [I guess he was quite the cook]. We went over there [in the 9th ward], but Fats wasn't around; they told us he was off playing somewhere. The next night, tho, we got to eat some of the bar-b-que that Kermit Ruffins, a really good trumpet player in the older style, prepared outside in the parking lot at his regular gig. I can't remember the name of the joint; it was somewhere in the 9th ward, too - The music was great; the great blind piano player, Henry Butler, walked in, and the place started buzzing: 'Henry Butler's here, Henry Butler's here' He sat in for the rest of the night, and stole the show with his virtuosic, full two-handed style, and even sang a bit - YOW! Aah, memories -
Monday, June 11: Blue Monday Jammy at the Richfield American Legion, 6501 Portland Av. S. 7 pm I think I'll do some of those great Fats tunes!
Willie and the Angel Heads will be hittin' the stage at our favorite dancy haunt, the Eagles # 34 this Saturday, June 30th. I'm definitely champing at the bit for this one; I need to play with this band! We'll be looking for all our friends gettin' down out there on the floor. You all know the cool scene at the Eagles - Let's make it happen one more time!
And, of course, da Blues roll on out at the Richfield Legion for the next two Mondays - Take that extra weekend day!
Saturday, June 30: Willie and the Angel Headed Hipsters at the Eagles, 25th & 25th south, Minneapolis. We hit at 8 pm.
Monday, July 2nd: Blue Monday Jam at the Richfield American Legion, 6501 Portland Av. S., Richfield. 7 - 7.30 pm.
I've been reading some very good books here lately - Jasmina Khadra, Elena Ferrante, Massimo Carlotto, etc. Will do a Bookface soon, if you're interested, I'll probly do it even if you're not interested...
All right - dat be it! love always, Willie
Ya - Willie, Barb, Michael, Max, Jimmy & Larry, otherwise known as the Angel Headed Hipsters Burning For The Ancient Heavenly Connection In The Machinery Of Night, will be back at our fave south side watering hole/danceteria, The Eagles # 34, this coming Saturday, July 28. We love it, and I know you love it, too - What's not to like: The best dance floor in town, plenty of seating, lots of parking, and last time we were there, there was a wait-person bringing drinks right to your table! Plus we will be bringing the grooves, 4 sure! Working on another of the new tunes from the new album: Life Will Bite You, another of my absolutely true little ditties from life. Speaking of the "new" album, It's very near ready to go; a bit more work on the graphics and we'll take it out to the joint that makes 'em for us. At some point there'll probably be a party to celebrate getting the thing done - why not? Be ready!
Yousah! dat be it! Love Willie
P. S. Looking for gigs, especially for September and October. Any ideas? Having a party? We're here, we're ready
P. S. Mini- Bookface:
Just finishing Elena Ferrante's 4 book Naples series. What a trip! One has withdrawal symptoms between each book. I don't know what'll happen to me when it's all done. Also, I picked up on Roxanne Dunbar Ortiz's Loaded: A Disarming History of the Second Amendment. It's every bit as good as her previous book, An Indigenous People's History of The United States. Even if we think we know what's been going on, historians like Ms Ortiz can open our eyes even more. The truth never hurts, in the long run.
Still Got the Blooz. Ya, always - An iconic hunk of American culture [rooted in slavery!], the blues is still with us, and will be 'til the end. It expresses all the emotions, even the complex, mixed feelings and, in doing so, makes us feel better. It's fun and [relatively] easy to play. For me, singing and playing blues music is to experience untrammeled joy. Blues is also serious in a socio-historical sense - Today I listened to Howlin' Wolf and Son House ---Immediately my mind goes to the whole milieu, the history that produced these extraordinary artists. As the music helps us with our emotional expression while helping us just feel good, it also carries a more serious current, one that's been with us from the beginning of our so-called nation: the stupendous crime of slavery. Add the equally horrendous crime of trying to eliminate all the native people from the land [and mostly succeeding], and you've got, in a nutshell, what built the great United States of America. Should we feel guilty about enjoying the blues? ...maybe . But we're here, now. Other than what we've been given by Native Americans and slaves, we seem to be in a cultural wasteland. When I was growing up, I latched onto black music with everything I had. It was real American culture. What else was there? Join the army? Fight for "freedom"? One of the great ironies of the whole situation is that the music invented out of abject misery, of slavery, should end up being such a big part of our [white people's] cultural identity. Who would Keith Richards be without slavery? Who would I be? Feel guilty? Yes. But try to understand, and face, what it really means to be an American. The twin "legacies" of slavery and genocide aren't things of the past - they're still here. What can I do about it? How do I live? Whew! Yeah, the blues means all that to me, and more, and I'll keep playing it because... well I don't really know how to do anything else, and it is a big, maybe the biggest , part of american culture. Perpetuating it is important, even if I'm just a poor white boy... So, come out and share my joy [and my guilt?], as we jam away on the blues at the Blue Monday Jam Session at the Legion. Let's get cultured! [And, yes, the blues is HAPPY music!]
Monday, August 13: Blue Monday rolls on at the Richfield American Legion, 6501 Portland Av. S., Richfield 7-ish
Ah, yea - And let's don't forget that most important act: love, baby, and compassion '' - Willie
It's been awhile since we've played ol' Famous Dave's - The scene of many memorable shows, Dave's is still one of the best places to hear and see music in the twin cities: Good sightlines, good sound, and plenty of space for sitting and for dancing. Never mind that Labor Day weekend is notoriously slow in clubs in town, it's a gig, and as we say in my circles. "A gig is a gig". Anyway, I know that all you loyal fans are just itching to get the super combo: great food and great music, Do the fair some other day; don't hassle yourself driving somewhere far away just to have to come back again - Let's just relax, have a stress-free weekend with a little outing over to Uptown to get your ya-yas out - Ah, yes, the season is so sweet, so mellow. -And, the band is in great shape after a wonderful night the other night over at the Eagles. [some new tunes!] We hope you can show up; it'd be nice to play Famous Dave's more often!
Saturday, September 1: Willie and the Angel Heads at Famous Dave;s Blues and Barbecue, Lake & Hennepin, South Minneapolis 9 pm
YAYA! love you all - Willie
PS The blues roll on at the Richfield American Legion on Monday Sept. 3. Come jam with us! 7 p
Still Got the Blues. Ya. I still got 'em - But ol' Blue Monday comin' up, Maybe I'll feel better just wangin' out some ba-looz! Still can't sing much, but my Voice Dr. say I'm improving all the time; I guess I am, but its pretty slow. Çan still play, 'tho! Hope to see you there!
Monday, December 3: Ber- Lue Monday, Richfield American Legion, 6501 Portland Av. S. Richfield Start around 7
All rite! love you - Willie