Music spotlights small town on radio station (video)
SHINER - Katie Williams loves Texas music, but there's one thing she loves even more - Shiner.
"There's nothing cooler to me than live music in Shiner," she said. "It's like Luckenbach with a brewery."
Williams, 31, hosts Shiner Sessions, a radio show that airs on The Badlands, 94.7 FM (KBSO) in Corpus Christi.
Musicians come to Shiner, set up at the Shiner Restaurant and Bar on a Thursday night and prior to their set, talk with Williams.
Williams said she asks them 10 rapid-fire questions as an icebreaker.
"It might be something as simple as what's your favorite sports team, or mayonnaise or Miracle Whip? Then I ask them about their inspiration, how they got started in music. Just get them to tell me their individual story," said Williams.
"That says a lot about who they are as an artist."
The interview and the music are recorded and played back the following Sunday via The Badlands airwaves.
Williams sees the show as a "cool thing to do to bring people to Shiner and to bring Shiner to everyone else."
Born in Corpus Christi, Williams moved to Victoria at 6 weeks old after her father died in a traffic accident.
She and her mother moved back to Corpus for three years, before relocating to Shiner when Williams was 8.
Her uncle, Calvin Tucker, was a longtime football coach at Shiner High School.
"We went to a lot of football games," Williams said.
But she also got an early exposure to music.
"My best friend's brother ran sound for The Emotions. So I was going to dances at 10, 11, 12," said Williams. "I got to talk to a lot of artists over the years. I am sure I was an annoying little kid at the time."
The little kid grew up.
After graduating from high school in 1999, Williams went to Texas A&M Corpus Christi for a year before moving to Houston and working as a financial counselor in the emergency center at Texas Children's Hospital.
She moved back to Shiner two summers ago and began to work in the Shiner Chamber of Commerce office.
"I loved it, but I am not a sit in the office kind of person," she said. "I want to get out and go."
Williams continues to volunteer for the chamber, and is organizing the music for this year's Half Moon Holidays event, but had her sights set on something different.
During her time in Houston she lived next door to Cheri Blankenship, owner of Hendrix Music Agency, who introduced her to the Texas music scene.
She also crossed paths many times with Tom Imber, owner of The Badlands and the Firehouse Saloon, a well-known country music venue in Houston.
Williams' friendship with Imber led to marketing work for the radio station.
"We talked about me doing a radio show, but I didn't want to just do something in the studio," Williams said.
So she and Carrie Moore, owner of gift shop Home Sweet Shiner, joined forces in July and began the Shiner Sessions.
"She wanted to have singers and songwriters come in," Williams said. "It was a good fit with what I wanted to do, too.
"It's neat to hear songwriters sing their songs with just a guitar and hear the story of where that song came from," Williams said.
Imber said the show has been well received.
"We've gotten a lot of good feedback," he said. "Katie does a great job.
"It's kind of reminiscent of Steve Coffman and how he kept Texas music in the spotlight," said Imber.
Coffman, a Victoria disc jockey, died in 2006.
"The show is a great concept, a great idea," Imber said. "It's set in a wonderful community. Everybody wins.
"I'm always looking for a way to expand The Badlands brand and this is a great way to do it."
Howard Gloor, a Shiner musician who also hosts music at the venue at his store Howard's, appreciates what Williams is doing.
"I am for anything 100 percent that brings music to Shiner," he said. "It's a good thing. I've been to several of them. There is so much music out there and Katie is bringing in some that I am learning about for the first time, too."
After six shows at Home Sweet Shiner, Williams moved the sessions to the Shiner Restaurant and Bar.
"We needed somewhere a little bigger that served food," she said. "We're not trying to put on concerts or big events, it's more of a listening room experience."
Williams said she has been thrilled with the caliber of musicians who have agreed to appear on Shiner Sessions including Jarrod Birmingham, Walt Wilkins and Zack Walther, among others.
"It's really neat to see the artists in this setting," she said.
"I've been to all kinds of shows - I've seen them play in bars, outside, in front of 10,000 people. I think what's special about what we're doing is the artists don't see it as a gig.
"They bring their wives, they stay in the bed and breakfast and just relax," added Williams.
We get to see a different side of them. They let loose in an informative, personal way. You get to see them be themselves."
A former Junior Miss Shiner and Miss Shiner, Williams hopes the musicians and others who come to the Shiner Sessions fall in love with the town the way she has.
"I am kind of a nerd and cheesy when it comes to Shiner," she admits. "But it's a great place to grow up, a great place to live and a great place to visit. It's just good, good people. It's got that vibe. Everyone's welcome here."