44°F
weather icon Clear

Music is magical, ‘accordion’ to Williams

As long as the ladies are willing to sing, Chet Williams is ready to play their musical accompaniment on his accordion.

Williams, 95, volunteers at the Nevada State Veterans Home once a week to play music in the facility’s Alzheimer’s unit.

“I play what the people want to sing, from folk songs to jazz, better old than new,” he said.

Williams began playing music at the veterans home shortly after it was completed in 2002.

Even now, although he is also a resident of the facility, he volunteers to play almost every Tuesday.

He said the music does great things for the residents.

“It is really astounding.”

Angela Metcalf, volunteer coordinator at Nevada State Veterans Home, said all the residents benefit from music therapy, especially those with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia.

“We are lucky to have such a great program,” she said.

Metcalf called Williams a “fabulous individual” and said the facility is lucky to have him be a part of the home, adding that residents and visitors feel the same.

Although he also plays the guitar, as well as the piano, banjo, ukulele and harmonica, Williams laments the demise of the accordion.

“It has limited use these days with so many guitars around. It seems everyone is born with a guitar these days,” he said.

Williams began playing the accordion when he was in junior high school. He said lessons were offered in the Italian market district of Boston, not too far from his home. Both of his parents had a musical background: His father was a piano player, and his mother was a music teacher.

Learning to play a musical instrument was his mother’s legacy to him. Williams said she died when he was born, but left money for him to take music lessons when he was old enough.

Williams said he started with piano, which he studied for five years before he moved to the accordion.

When he was in junior high school, Williams and his friends formed a “hillbilly band.” They played at the local movie theater.

“In those days, they had live music between the shows.”

He also performed for a radio show between its stock market reports.

Although his accordion followed him to college, his musical career was put on the back burner for World War II. He enlisted in the Army Air Corps and was part of the crew that helped manage parts and airdromes.

After the war, he embarked on a career to teach teachers how to become better educators. Williams spent time in Somalia and Western Samoa working for UNESCO before joining the staff at Texas A&M in Texarkana, Texas.

Upon retiring in 1988, he and his late wife, Beverly Austin Williams, moved to Boulder City and music again became a part of Williams’ life. He joined the Nevada Old Time Fiddlers and the Front Porch Pickers and began playing at facilities throughout Southern Nevada. Williams also participants in regular jam sessions at Senior Center Boulder City.

In addition to the joy he said his music brings to others, it also has introduced him to many people, including the late Pete Seeger, who was a good friend.

Williams said they met when Seeger would play at universities where he taught.

“When he was blacklisted, he played at the colleges,” Williams said.

Because of their friendship, Williams wrote a letter on Seeger’s behalf to help him fight against charges of being a communist in the late 1950s. They also would stay at each other’s homes when traveling.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
THE LATEST
Working together helps entire region

We’ve all heard the old adage, “Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.” I find that statement to be so true for Southern Nevada. While the people of Boulder City have accomplished many amazing things over the past 92 years, there has always been a spirit of teamwork, collaboration and strong alliances that drive us forward.

Film fest returns to in-person schedule

After two years of trying to do everything online, Lee Lanier is ready to welcome live audiences back to the Dam Short Film Festival. The latest edition of the popular festival is scheduled to run Feb. 16-20 in downtown Boulder City.

Heat tolerance affected by location, proximity to wall

Q. After reading your recent gardening piece I have decided to take your advice and replace the bougainvillea and the western redbud with cat’s claw vine and an apricot and protect it with shade cloth. Is it better to plant a bareroot fruit tree or a potted one? Also, in this hot spot would a peach have as much chance as an apricot? As to shading the plants and wall should they be covered completely or built to only provide afternoon shade? My last question has to do with western redbud. I want to attempt to transplant it to a more favorable location. Is now a good time to transplant and are there steps I can take to help it survive?

Nevada’s Yesteryear: Controversy surrounds lake’s name

As stated by Nevada historian Phillip Earl, “Few of Nevada’s geological features have had a history of controversy quite like that of Lake Tahoe, which graces the California-Nevada border.”

Blatchford to represent BC in state pageant

Taylor Blatchford will be representing her beloved hometown by running as Miss Boulder City in the 2023 Miss Nevada competition June 22 and 23 at Bally’s Lake Tahoe in Stateline, Nevada.

Library takes families on storied path through town

An attraction set up by the Boulder City Library takes patrons on a path through local businesses to read a story as they walk.

Slow drains can lead to costly repairs

Nothing puts a kink in your kitchen or bathroom like a backed-up drain. Treat it quickly and avoid an out of commission sink, shower or tub. Let it go from slow drain to standing water and you’ll be in for a messy, smelly, unsanitary and potentially costly repair.

New year brings opportunities to ‘do something’

Happy new year! As we enter 2023, I hope everyone has enjoyed the holidays and is looking forward to the new year. Considerable progress and goal-setting have been happening, and I wanted to share some of that with you.

Senior Center, Jan. 5-11

Hours of operation: 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday to Friday at 813 Arizona St., 702-293-3320. Visit the center’s website at www.seniorcenterbouldercity.org.