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William Hart Strecker

By Gary Wien

It's been nine years since William Hart Strecker's Toyota Land Cruiser ran off the road and smashed into a tree. The accident left him in a coma for twenty days and when he awoke he discovered he had broken several bones, a collapsed lung and other internal injuries. It took him about six months before he could walk and talk again and even longer to be healthy once more. But instead of looking back in anger, Strecker looks back and remembers how the accident brought him back to music.

Strecker grew up on Long Island as the fifth child in a family with four boys and three girls. His father was totally deaf in one ear and nearly completely deaf in the other, but he could feel the vibrations from musical instruments so he made sure all of his children were in the school band while growing up. When it was William's time to pick an instrument the only thing left was a trombone, which he proceeded to play for a few years.

"I slowly declined from 3rd grade to 6th grade," said Strecker. "There were chairs for first trombone, second trombone and third trombone. They didn't have fourth trombone, so that's when I thought I'd try singing."

Singing turned out to be a great move for Strecker who soon joined the chorus and began learning from a top vocal coach. He won several awards, and was even named New York State's best high school tenor. A full scholarship for voice brought him to Baylor University in Texas. Looking back, he says the trombone might actually have been helpful in becoming a better singer.

After college, Strecker had several bands that toured around the country and were always just a hair away from becoming big. By the mid-1980s, he had enough of touring and settled down as an architectural landscape designer. He was on his way home from visiting a client when his car accident took place in 1998. The accident changed him in more ways than one.

"When you're in therapy and you're next to someone that's got no legs or no arms and their attitude is a heck of a lot better than yours and they're joking around, it makes you pretty humble," said Strecker. "It puts your priorities in line. It makes you think if this fella is a lot worse off than me then I'm going to get off my butt and really get back into it."

A friend of Strecker's brought him a CD player and some CDs to listen to at the hospital. One of them was Deuces Wild by B.B. King. As Strecker was looking at the CD he noticed one of his old band members standing there alongside Keith Richards, Mick Jagger and B.B. King.

"I thought that had to be a sign or an omen," said Strecker. "That was a shining light to me that I've got to start singing again. I was missing that in my life and so that was also one of the moments that got me thinking about playing again."

Strecker says that he had never completely stopped writing music, but wasn't really doing much until that moment. From then on, he was ready to give music another shot.

In 2004, Strecker released Keep on Lovin' - his first record in decades. It was followed by All This Dreaming and his latest, Smoke and Clouds. A CD release party is planned for Wednesday, November 7th at The Living Room in New York City.

The new record is wonderful for anyone that is a fan of singer-songwriters. "California Dreaming" reminds me a bit of Neil Young's classic stories played against soft, wailing guitars and a jangling piano. The horns on "Anna Belle" bring back memories of the old Asbury Sound found on early Springsteen and Southside Johnny & the Asbury Juke records, while some tracks like "Smoke and Clouds" have the country-tinged flavor of The Grateful Dead. Others just have a quiet familiarity that the best songs always do - even with the first time you hear them. There's a sense of honesty and pain and history that cannot be faked.

Strecker feels good about this record because he thinks it comes the closest to emulating his life performance of any of the records he's ever recorded. A good part of that is because of the guys playing alongside him.

"The band itself is just a great group of musicians that has grown in the past 4-5 years," said Strecker. "They've helped in the writing of these songs and I've gotten them involved more than I did on the last two records. This makes it more of a band effort."

"The main thing is that with a second chance you learn to appreciate every moment and do the best you can. And, of course, you don't take anything for granted.

"The hardest thing about it now after almost nine years later is to remember that. That's the hard thing. Because with the day to day troubles that we all have it can get overwhelming but if we can just remember that this is a gift that we have - this life. That's one of the things I've learned. It's given me a very humble way of looking at things. I'm blessed just to be here."

Wednesday November 7, 2007 at 7:00 PM
The Living Room, 154 Ludlow Street New York, NY

CD Release Party for the new album SMOKE and CLOUDS with the full band and guest artists.

Friday November 30, 2007 at 7:00 PM
Salt Creek Grille, One Rockingham Row, Princeton, NJ

William Hart Strecker on Guitar & Vocals/ Ken Rich on Bass/ Andrew Sherman on Piano & Vocals/ Chris Eminizer on Saxophone, Percussion & Vocals/ Frank Vilardi on Drums.

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Event calendar
Saturday, Dec 15, 2018


DOWNSTREAM @ The Saint, Asbury Park - 7:30pm

LIFE OF AGONY/SICK OF IT ALL @ The Stone Pony, Asbury Park - 6:30pm

JOHNNY O @ Lobby Bar at Hard Rock Hotel and Casino Atlantic City, Atlantic City - 10:00pm

WEIRD SCIENCE @ Hard Rock Cafe at Hard Rock Hotel and Casino Atlantic City, Atlantic City - 10:00pm

The THE BAND Band @ Darress Theatre, Boonton - 8:00pm

Brian Fallon @ Crossroads (Garwood), Garwood - 8:00pm

KASHMIR THE LIVE LED ZEPPELIN SHOW @ The Strand Theater, Lakewood - 8:00pm

Holiday POPS! @ Richardson Auditorium in Alexander Hall, Princeton - 3:00pm and 6:00pm

TAKING BACK SUNDAY @ Starland Ballroom, Sayreville - 7:00pm

Classic Stones Live! The Complete Rolling Stones Tribute Show @ South Orange Performing Arts Center (SOPAC), South Orange - 8:00pm

The Beat Tells @ Lizzie Rose Music Room, Tuckerton - 7:30pm

The Metropolitan Opera: La Traviata @ Pollak Theatre @ Monmouth University, West Long Branch - 1:00pm


Elf, The Musical @ Surflight Theatre, Beach Haven - 2:00pm and 7:00pm and 7:30pm

A Christmas Story @ Pax Amicus Castle Theatre, Budd Lake - 8:00pm

An Actor's Carol @ Cape May Stage, Cape May - 3:00pm and 7:30pm

Seussical @ CDC Theatre, Cranford - 7:30pm

Peter Pan @ Axelrod Performing Arts Center, Deal Park - 7:30pm

A CHRISTMAS CAROL @ Bergen Performing Arts Center (bergenPAC), Englewood - 8:00pm

Irving Berlin's Holiday Inn @ Paper Mill Playhouse, Millburn - 1:30pm and 7:00pm


A Wonderful Life @ Broadway Theatre of Pitman, Pitman - 8:00pm

Junie B. Jones The Musical at Black Box PAC @ Black Box PAC, Teaneck - 11:00am

A Charlie Brown Christmas @ Studio Playhouse Upper Montclair, Upper Montclair - 1:30pm and 3:30pm

Hudson Theatre Works presents "And My True Love Gave To Me" @ Hudson Theatre Works, Weehawken - 8:00pm


Louie Anderson @ Mainstage @ Union County Performing Arts Center (UCPAC), Rahway - 8:00pm


NEW JERSEY BALLET’S NUTCRACKER WITH NEW JERSEY SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA @ Mayo Performing Arts Center (MPAC), Morristown - 1:00pm and 6:00pm

Forces of Nature Dance Theatre with special guest Sweet Honey In The Rock @ Victoria Theater @ New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC), Newark - 2:00pm and 7:30pm


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