Athens, GA, September 10, 2019 --(PR.com
)-- Ritchie Williams was 17 years old when he first noticed his brother’s descent into the depths of addiction.
Since their childhood in Jacksonville, Fla., the two had been thick as thieves; best friends then and now, but Dave’s drug use began to steal Ritchie’s older sibling, with the slow assuredness of guaranteed destruction.
Looking back, Ritchie - who now leads the Athens, Ga.-based band Nocturnal Blonde, which draws on music the two brothers created to tell Dave’s story and light a beacon of hope for those who might similarly struggle - sees that his brother’s path was, in some ways, no surprise.
“He’s incredibly intelligent in a lot of ways, and in the ’80s, they had a gifted program where they would really just lay it all out for you,” Ritchie told The Ties That Bind Us recently. “They would give you an IQ test and tell your parents what your personality was going to be, and they told our parents that he was only going to see things in black-and-white. This is pretty much a direct quote from my memory - they said he could either end up working for NASA, or end up in a ditch.”
Dave didn’t end up in a ditch, but he came close. An opioid related overdose in 2016 brought on respiratory failure, which led to acute ischemia, a stroke that damaged his brain. He’s alive, but he’s forever changed, and when a part of him died, a part of Ritchie did as well. Nocturnal Blonde, his band with Rachel Adams, was his own way back into the light. The band released an EP, Smart Heart, in 2018 which includes songs from the forthcoming full-length album, Still Gushing.
A brotherly bond forged in music
For the Williams brothers, music has been one of the primary ties that bound them as siblings and friends. Ritchie remembers realizing his connection to music when he heard “Us and Them” by Pink Floyd at age 4. “It hit my pleasure center so hard, and I remember feeling overwhelmed and in love,” he said. “My dad used to actually play with Chet Atkins a little bit when he was a really young kid on the guitar, and I just had no choice but to pursue music. I was immersed in it.”
Dave called from the hospital.
“It was like a phone call from beyond the grave,” Ritchie said. “But he remembered the number, and he dialed it, and within a week, I was playing music again. That’s always been our main bond, and it was such a relief to see that it was still a possibility.”
Nocturnal Blonde was born when Ritchie met Rachel in December 2017. She grew up outside of Athens, and her earliest memories of music are of sitting on the front pew of churches around the area, listening to the Southern gospel quartet of which her father was a part. Music has been a part of her life ever since, and when she discovered the music Ritchie and Dave had created she knew that she could bring something to it.
The first time Ritchie heard her sing, he knew as well, he added.
“When we met Ritchie told me he was trying to get something started and asked if I wanted to listen to the music, so I did,” Rachel added. “He gave me three songs, and I knew immediately that I wanted to work with them. And then, when he told me the story, it all made sense.”
... And part of that support is Nocturnal Blonde. Dave lives vicariously through Ritchie and Rachel, and the two are very aware that the music made by a once-brilliant mind still has a role in healing hearts also damaged by addiction.
Nocturnal Blonde’s album "Still Gushing" releases today.
For the full story see thetiesthatbindus.org
Story by Steve Wildsmith
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