Jack Williams performs concert in Sunrise for historical society

SUNRISE – Jack Williams performed a concert in the YMCA building in Sunrise Thursday. The concert was hosted by the Sunrise Historic And Prehistoric Preservation Society.

The purpose of SHAPPS is to conserve the history and prehistory of the Sunrise mines and surrounding area.

“And what we really want to do is to preserve it and to share it,” said John Voight, a leading member in SHAPPS, “Those are the two things. Mostly preserve it and share it.”

SHAPPS owns and maintains the YMCA building where the event was held. The building is in the process of being renovated.

“They’re in charge,” said Voight. “We pay for it. Renovation, electricity, lights. We got a long way to go. We as an infant organization, we have to figure out what we’re going to use it for.”

“How quickly we want to develop it and what we’re going to do in the long run. And when we decide that, then we’ll know what we’re going to have to do to it.”

After the repairs are completed, SHAPPS wants part of the building to be a museum for local artifacts which are discovered.

“We would like to convert the YMCA into a repository for the artifacts,” said Voight. “The basement is dedicated to storage and study of the Paleo-Indian artifacts.”

“The main level is dedicated to a museum that highlights the Sunrise history, but also regional archaeology. There’s a tremendous amount of archaeology close by, and we would like to be the place where we can centralize that study.”

If possible, SHAPPS would like to the building to be multi-purpose in addition to being a museum.

“But I think we’re getting a pretty good idea of the direction we want to head,” said Voight.

“This was another test tonight to see if the building could function as more like a civic center and I think it can.”

Another reason for the concert was to thank the volunteers of SHAPPS for their work.

“We wanted to thank some of the volunteers and some of the benefactors of SHAPPS, who have been helping us for years,” said Voight.

A street potluck was held in front of the YMCA building before the concert began. The potluck began at 5:30 p.m. and lasted 75 minutes.

The concert began at 7 p.m. and lasted two hours with a 15-minute intermission. Voight and other key SHAPPS members delivered short messages before Williams performed.

Williams is a guitarist with a career spanning over 60 years. The first instrument he learned was a ukulele. 

“Music was all around my house,” said Williams. “The only musician in my house was my mother. She played the ukulele and dabbled on other things.”

“I just developed a love for music of almost every kind. I started playing the trumpet. Learned to play all these great jazz tunes and sing them. I took up the guitar and started playing rock and roll.”

Although he plays multiple types of music, Williams does not label himself with one specific music genre.

“I don’t believe in a genre,” said Williams. “The only reason for a genre is so people know how to buy music.”

Williams has traveled greatly during his career. He has been to 48 of the 50 States and likes to go wherever he can find a
receptive audience.

“I’ve played in all the states except Hawaii and Montana,” said Williams. “And I don’t care, wherever there’s a good audience. Wherever there’s an audience that will meet you halfway.

“When I find people who are willing to listen to me just ramble on about my family and my life experiences and song and story, then I like to play there.”

With his focus on writing songs, Williams takes inspiration from everything. 

“Anything that strikes my fancy,” said Williams. “I write about my mother. I write a story I read in a magazine. I write about anything. 

“Birds and animals show up in all my songs. I’m a birdwatcher. A lot of my songs are about the Deep South. Birds appear that are indigenous to that area.”

Williams said he enjoys, “Writing about anything that gives a sense of local color of a place.”

“If I were going to write about here, I’d have to absorb what I see here,” said Williams. “I’d have to go up and visit the mine.” 

“I’d have to look at the artifacts and learn about them. And then I might not write that song for another two years. I’d just let it simmer.”

The first plan was to have Williams perform last year but couldn’t because of COVID. Despite the delay, after the concert was done, Voight was pleased with the turnout. 

“Anytime you can get a bunch of people on a weeknight out, who are going spend into the wee dark hours out, yeah it was great,” said Voight. “We had maybe 50 or 60.”

“We had a great turnout. We had a great potluck dinner that filled the street. Filled the building with live music and had a gregarious, fun-loving crowd willing to sing along. It was a good crowd.”


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