Ward Williams
w/ Steve Fiore
Fri. Sept. 1
10 p.m.
$8
Village Tavern
1055 Johnnie Dodds Blvd.
884-6311
www.village-tavern.com

It’s been nearly 13 years since Charleston-based multi-instrumentalist and songwriter Ward “Wardie” Williams relocated to the Holy City from N.C. with his bandmates in Jump, Little Children. The guitarist, cellist, and vocalist performed, toured, and recorded with the group (later known simply as Jump) up until their recent amicable split. Over the last two years, Williams managed to carve a niche as co-frontman/guitarist alongside a few Jump mates in the notoriously loud and tight house band at the weekly “Hair-e-oke” live heavy metal karaoke at Cumberland’s.

This Friday, he hits the stage at the Tavern with an official “farewell” set as he prepares to make a move to New York City (Brooklyn, of course).

What led to this forthcoming trip — and why New York, rather than, say, Billings, Ann Arbor, or Albuquerque?

“Every time Jump would play in NYC — about twice a year — I’d always think, ‘Man, I bet it’d be fun to live here,'” says Williams. “I also felt that if I was going continue in the music industry, I should go live in a town that was more connected to the biz. I considered Nashville, also, but I just thought that if I was going go through the hassle of moving, I may as well move to the biggest of the biggest. I think it’ll be fun. Plus, there are already so many Charleston transplants, that I think we’ll start a ‘Little Lowcountry’ neighborhood and become our own ethnic group.”

“Little Lowcountry.” “Carolinatown.” “Charlestonville.” It could be a hoot. Imagine a bunch of coastal ex-pats, perusing the Williamsburg or Park Slope streets under endless lines of S.C. state flags and banners, heavily clad in Docksiders, madras slacks, sport fishing gear, and out-of-fashion Ray-Bans … well, maybe that’s a scene for another bunch.

“I’ll probably have to get an F&B job or temp job of some kind at first,” William predicts. “But I’m hoping to find gigs around town, mostly as a solo performer, but I’ll do some freelance side work as well. My pal, Catherine Popper, who plays bass up there, says that people are always looking for cello players, so I’d better dust off the classical chops.”

Williams and his current band — drummer Evan Bivins (also of Jump, Hair-e-oke, and Cabaret Kiki), guitarist Lee Barbour (a veteran of the local jazz scene), and Ash Hopkins (also of The Bedrooms, and Cabaret Kiki) — celebrated the release of Williams’ debut solo album last April with a big show at the Village Tavern and a 10-day tour across the Southeast.

The 12 songs on the self-titled disc were melodic, country-tinged pop gems. Engineered and coproduced by Hopkins at his local Rebellion Road studio, the collection stands as one of the most refined local pop-rock releases of the year.

“I’ll be playing guitar, cello, and shrieking,” laughs Williams of this week’s gig, which could see a lively rotation of guest players and well-wishers on stage. “I probably will do mostly songs from my new album, but I have a couple of new songs, and I may dig into my catalog a little more. I’m also going to throw in a couple of cover tunes, like ‘Here Comes My Baby’ by Cat Stevens. I haven’t felt inspired to sing a Jump song, yet. And I don’t sing as well as Jay [Clifford]!”

Fans can expect a few extra surprises in the set list and the lineups for both Steve Fiore’s and Ward’s backing bands … as well as a few generous notions and statements of encouragement from the man of the hour.