Bert Wills began playing guitar in the Texas Gulf Coast area during the 1960’s. His unique and different style, lead him to playing in the bars and dance halls all cross of Galveston / Houston area. In the 1970’s, Bert’s swing band “Bert Wills and the Country Cadillacs” backed up major country touring acts, folks like George Jones, Isaac Payton Sweat, etc. that came through the Winchester Club in Houston, but it was in the 1980’s, when Bert put together the Blues/Horn Band named “Bert Wills and the Crying Shames” that he created 1000’s of loyal fans, which follow him today.
Bert’s style of guitar playing is very unique & different. Many folks have used the term “Less is More”, which really does describe his playing. One of Houston’s hottest guitar players once stated, “I can play a 1000 notes and Bert Wills can play 12 and he blows me out of the water.” His ability to Never Over Play, is just one aspect of Bert’s style, but equally important and impressive is the tone he gets from each note. Many guitarists can play more notes or play faster, but it is pure tone of the notes that set Bert Wills apart from others.
In baseball, they use a term “For the Love of the Game”, which means you learn the craft, you play the game proper, you respect the game, etc., because you love the institution! If ever there was a term “For the Love of the Music”, it is lived by Bert Wills. It's hard to believe that only 7500 people list “Full-Time Musician” as their profession with the IRS. Bert being one of those 7500, he looks at the Music as his craft, his way of making a living, the way he puts food on his table, so when one walks into that arena with him, he expect that person to respect the institution as he does, which sometimes causes him come-across as hard, but those who survive and many who can’t, will tell you, they are better musicians because of it.
Growing up in the Kemah area, Bert spent much of his time in Galveston, surfing from sun-rise to sunset. In the 1990’s Bert not only moved to Galveston, but he also released an instrumental CD “Pavones Sunset”, some of his best work. “Pavones Sunset” was a brilliant throw back of the great Surf Bands of the ‘50s & '60s. The songs on this CD are exactly what fans love about Bert's playing, it showcases his pure clean playing style, his ability to never over-play and his great musical arrangements!
The Pavones Sunset CD became an instant success with the Surf-Music fans around the world. Folks from as far away as Paris France, were contacting Bert and sending CDs with surf songs they had recorded. The CD also became soundtrack for surf movies produced by surfing legend, Herbie Fletcher and Long Board Magazine. With the success of Pavones Sunset, Bert came up with the idea of showing a Surf Movie and having his band do the soundtrack Live. Bert decided he could rent The Strand Theatre, a small Galveston community theater and he could show Herbie Fletcher’s footage while the band played. First, he had to get permission from the surfing legend. When contacted, Herbie said "I have been using Bert music for years, he doesn't have to ask permission, just use it." Bert put together the Live Music Surf Show and within days, the theater of 205 seats, sold out. He also performed the Live Soundtrack Surf Show for thousands of people on Galveston’s Mardri Gras Main Stage and for a Private Party for Top-Gamblers at The Isle of Capri Casino.
Photo taken by Zach Tate
Bert Wills will be headlining the Galveston Surftober Fest, Saturday Oct 13th, along with some of the best surf music bands in the State of Texas, click on link for more inf
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