New Jersey Stage
New Jersey Stage on social media

This article is from our magazine. To view it in its original format, click here

Catching Up With Victoria Williams

By Gary Wien

originally published: 04/26/2017

Catching Up With Victoria WilliamsFor many music fans in the 90s, Victoria Williams was their introduction to Multiple Sclerosis (MS).  The Louisiana born Williams was a rising star in the indie world, touring as the opening act for Neil Young when she first began having neurological problems.  Faced with a sudden bout of medical bills and without health insurance, 14 artists including Pearl Jam, Soul Asylum, Lou Reed, and The Waterboys covered songs written by Williams on a tribute album entitled “Sweet Relief: A Benefit For Victoria Williams.”  The album did so well that it led to the creation of the Sweet Relief Musicians Fund, an organization that aids musicians with their medical bills.

The Sweet Relief Musicians Fund went through a period of hard times but rebounded and now is regularly supported by hundreds of musicians, corporations, and music fans. The organization works with venues across the country and holds benefit concerts from time to time.  One such concert is a “Strange 80s” benefit taking place on Sunday, May 14 at the Fonda Theater in Los Angeles, California.  Hosted by Finn Wolfhard of the Netflix hit “Stranger Things,” the event will feature performances by Finn and a rotating case of rock stars and celebrities covering timeless songs from the 80s.  All proceeds go to the Sweet Relief Musicians Fund.

Performers scheduled to play the benefit include Tenacious D, “Weird Al” Yankovic, and Sarah Silverman, plus Corey Taylor (Slipknot), Jane Wiedlin (Go Go’s), Adam & John (Taking Back Sunday), Scott Ian (Anthrax), Pearl Aday, Michael Starr (Steel Panther), Richard and Johnny (Filter), Dave Kushner (Velvet Revolver), Dan Konopka (OkGo), Deap Vally, John Feldmann (Goldfinger), Marko Desantis (Sugarcult), Stephen (Anberlin) and more.

When New Jersey Stage heard about the benefit, we thought it was a good time to see how Victoria Williams was doing these days.  MS is a disease that affects a pair of writers of this magazine and we know that it affects everyone differently.  Members of the magazine staff have been raising money and taking part in this year’s Walk MS in Lake Como, which takes place Sunday, April 30.  If you would like to make a donation, click here.

How are you doing?
I am doing good.

The article continues after this ad




The Sweet Relief album was sort of my introduction to MS.  Do you feel that many know of your work because of MS?
Well definitely people who have the unfortunate diagnose of MS.  A lot of people got in touch with me, asking what I was taking and stuff like that.


What was it that originally led you to be tested for MS?
I was out touring, opening for Neil Young and I was playing solo.  It was like two week spurts and then you’d have two weeks off.  I remember I was playing a gig one night and I had to leave the next day to go on the next spurt.  It was hard for me to walk and I went to a chiropractor because I thought there was something wrong with my back.  I thought I might have pulled something.  He said I think you have MS.  I thought he was crazy!

I went on to do the tour and as the tour went on my hands weren’t working and the tour manager said “You’ve got to go to a hospital and find out what’s wrong with you.” I went and they did a lot of tests and where they found the MS was in the MRI.  They saw the scars in my brain and that’s when I was diagnosed with MS.


Do you remember what you felt when you heard the diagnose?
I think I thought it was muscular dystrophy in my head.  I was mixed up.  Luckily I’ve just gone on having faith.  That’s the thing.  I have faith that everything’s going to be alright.  Like it was a good thing that I was able to start Sweet Relief.  A lot of people have gotten help from it.  For me, every day is one day at a time.


At the time, many MS drugs were just beginning to be introduced.  Were you able to get on one?
I was trying to do all natural stuff, but my doctor said “you’re getting too many symptoms, you’ve got to start taking drugs.” So that’s when I started taking shots.  I would be walking and see a big step and be like “woh! How can I get my feet to go up this big step?” Some stuff never came back.  My feet are still kind of numb and my hands are still kind of numb.

Can you still play guitar and write songs?
Yes, I can.  What I’ve been doing when I’m playing is I do a lot of improvising, which is how I started.  I started out doing improvising but when I got a record deal they said, “You have to play the same songs every time because you’re promoting your record.” But now it’s been good because I do a lot of improvisation which I love doing.  I feel it’s such a gift.


Do you still do live shows?
Yes, I do.  I just played one recently, but it wasn’t my stuff.  It was a benefit for autism at a theatre in Glendale with a lot of other people doing the Big Pink (The Band’s) record.  They assigned the songs and I was assigned “Rocking Chair.” I also sang backup for a lot of people.  There were a lot of people there I hadn’t seen in years.  It was fun to do that.


Are you thinking about putting out new music sometime? You released a live album from the 90s for this year’s Record Store Day, but it’s been a while since your last album of new material.
I think I will put out a new album of songs, but I don’t know when.  I live here on this ranch with so many things to do every day.  There are plenty of animals here.  It seems like every day is full.  I hope to do a record this year, but I’ve said that for years and I haven’t done it yet.  It doesn’t mean I can’t.  God willing, I can.

For more by this author, click here

Tommy Castro & The Painkillers To Return To Lizzie Rose Music Room
​​​​​​​(TUCKERTON, NJ) -- Tommy Castro & the Painkillers return to the Lizzie Rose Music Room on Wednesday, April 17 at 7:30pm.  Whether he’s squeezing out the deepest blues or playing the funkiest soul grooves, legendary blues and soul giant Tommy Castro knows how to ignite a crowd. Tickets are $38.00 Advance and $45.00 day of show.
Experience Hendrix at NJPAC on March 29th
(NEWARK, NJ) --  Celebrate the music and legacy of Jimi Hendrix as Experience Hendrix comes to Newark’s New Jersey Performing Arts Centeron Friday, March 29 at 8:00pm. This critically acclaimed multi-artist tribute to Hendrix features performances by Billy Cox, Joe Satriani, Dave Mustaine, Jonny Lang, Dweezil Zappa, Eric Johnson, Doug Pinnick, Chris Layton, Mato Nanji, Kenny Aronoff, The Slide Brothers, Henri Brown, Kevin McCormick and special guest Taj Mahal.
World Famous Bachata Artists To Take The Stage for Uforia Bachata Fest 2019 At Prudential Center on Saturday, March 16
(NEWARK, NJ) -- Uforia Bachata Fest 2019 at Prudential Center will bring together the world’s best Bachata artists including, Frank Reyes “The Prince of Bachata”, Hector Acosta “El Torito”, Zacarias Ferreira, Luis Vargas and Raulin Rodriguez "El Cacique”. Uforia Bachata Fest 2019, presented by Zamora Live, Euforia Radio (Univision) and Corona Extra, will be held on Saturday, March 16 at 8:00pm.  The contagious Caribbean rhythm known as "Bachata" will have its gala night, marking the first time in history these world-renowned artists will perform on the same stage. 
Youth Symphony and Youth Orchestra To Perform at Princeton University January 27
(PRINCETON, NJ) -- The New Jersey Youth Symphony (NJYS) continues its 40th Anniversary with a concert featuring the NJYS Youth Symphony and Youth Orchestra on Sunday, January 27 at 4:00pm at Richardson Auditorium at Princeton University located at 68 Nassau Street in Princeton. Youth Symphony will open the concert with Mahler Symphony No. 1 in D major followed by Youth Orchestra performing Dvořák Symphony No. 8 in G major, Op. 88.
Rickie Lee Jones To Perform At Grunin Center
(TOMS RIVER, NJ) -- Two-time Grammy winner Rickie Lee Jones exploded onto the pop scene in 1978 and has made a career of fearlessly experimenting with her sound and persona on more than 15 critically acclaimed albums. She brings her show “An Intimate Evening with Rickie Lee Jones” to the Jay and Linda Grunin Center for the Arts on Friday, February 22 at 8:00pm.  

The Empire Strikes Back in Concert with the NJSO LIVE! at the State Theatre
Some of our favorite childhood memories growing up at the Jersey Shore involved going to our town’s grand old movie palace, The Community Theater, in Toms River. Built with colonial architecture and featuring large white columns in the front, paned glass windows in the lobby, a circular brick walk from the sidewalk to the box office, and a white picket fence which enclosed a lawn and a flower bed, this local gem presented the latest Hollywood films. For kids like us back in the 1960’s, that meant pictures like Mary Poppins, Cinderella, The Love Bug, and Flipper.
Scott Wolfson and Other Heroes At Riverside Rhythm & Rhyme
This coming Sunday, January 20, Scott Wolfson and his band will be serving up their unique blend of Americana at the Riverside Rhythm & Rhyme series at Investors Bank Theater in Succasunna, New Jersey. The band – Scott Wolfson and Other Heroes – formed in Jersey City in 2011, and, even though the members have migrated in various directions since then, they still consider themselves to be a Jersey City band.
"He Totally Wowed Us!" John Oates LIVE! at SOPAC
It’s brisk for an evening walk on South Orange Ave. in South Orange, NJ, this Friday, Jan. 4, 2019 evening, but it’s a good road to follow as it leads us directly to the South Orange Performing Arts Center (SOPAC) for a special performance by singer, songwriter, and guitarist John Oates and his backup group, The Good Road Band.
“Tons of Fun!” The Glenn Miller Orchestra LIVE! at the Grunin Center
Although Friday, December 21, 2018 is the shortest day of the year, the audience of big band music lovers here at Toms River, NJ’s Grunin Center for the Arts is hoping for a long evening of classic swing and holiday tunes performed by the incomparable Glenn Miller Orchestra!
Mike Davis and The New Wonders
Mike Davis traces his love for the trumpet back to a Disney movie. He grew up in a musical family, with both his parents playing strings in the Seattle Symphony. But Davis wanted an instrument of his own. Then, at age 9, he saw “The Aristocats,” the animated film about a bunch of French felines — including a group of jazz-playing alley cats.

Event calendar
Tuesday, Jan 22, 2019

Sorry, no events listed for today.
Here are some upcoming events.

Rechnitz Halls DiMattio Gallery, Monmouth University @ 10:00am
West Long Branch

Pollak Theatre @ Monmouth University @ 7:30pm
West Long Branch

New Jersey Repertory Company @ 8:00pm
Long Branch


For more on our awards, click here

New Jersey Stage © 2019 by Wine Time Media, LLC | PO Box 140, Spring Lake, NJ 07762 (732) 280-7625 |

Images used on this site have been sent to us from publicists, artists, and PR firms.
If there is a problem with the rights to any image, please contact us and we will look into the matter.