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You can purchase the eBook version now (here). The print version should become available soon--most likely, in June 2024.

Vivian Williams:
A Musical Life
Now available
(in Kindle app format) on Amazon.


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What People Are Saying About
“Vivian Williams: A Musical Life”

A loving, in-depth dive into the life of one of Seattle’s most important and influential cultural figures.
Paul de Barros, former program director, Northwest Folklife, author (Jackson Street After Hours: The Roots of Jazz in Seattle)

I cling to the Northwest music community, a beautiful tapestry of values and connections that we jointly maintain. A few golden threads stand out for their seminal contributions; among them, Vivian and Phil Williams guided the development of the institutions and values that became our most powerful social glue. Reliving this development through Paul’s exhaustively researched historical and rich photographic record gave me joy, pride, and sincere gratitude for their legacy. I thoroughly enjoyed every page of the book.
Sandy Bradley, guitarist, auctioneer, radio personality, organic farmer, tile maker, legendary dance caller, and a prime architect of Seattle’s folk scene 

As “Zen and the Art of Archery” speaks to a much broader audience than just archers, Vivian Williams: A Musical Life has much more to offer than just the substantial accomplishments of Vivian and Phil Williams in the realm of old-time fiddling, as good a read as it is. The way that Vivian and Phil crafted their lives can be seen as a roadmap for anyone who wants to forge their talents, curiosity, and passion into a right livelihood—as rewarding to the public as it is to them.
John Ullman and Irene Namkung, co-founders of the Seattle Folklore Society and former agents for roots musicians including Bill Monroe, Mike Seeger, and The Boys of the Lough.

I had the privilege of knowing and learning from Vivian and Phil Williams; their performances at the Northwest Folklife Festival, which they co-founded, were always a high point of the event. The joy they brought to the cultural life of the Pacific Northwest radiates from these delightful pages. Vivian Williams: A Musical Life is a deep dive into the fermenting musical life of mid-twentieth century America as experienced and shaped by these seminal figures. Paul Schafer’s brilliant work is a captivating biography and a vivid look back at a nation bright with hope, promise, and music—qualities so beautifully embodied in Vivian Williams.
Kurt E. Armbruster, musician, historian, author (Before Seattle Rocked, Orphan Road, Playing for Change, Cthulhu’s Back in Town, Whistle Down the Valley)


Message From the Author

Dear friends, family, and fans of Vivian Williams,

I wrote this biography of Vivian Williams because I felt that her stories and those of her late husband, Phil Williams, needed to be captured and presented to the world. I interviewed Vivian thirty-three times over the last five years of her life. I also gathered information from more than forty of her friends, bandmates, and family members—and even some people she didn't know—to fill out the stories that she told me. 

As I write this on June 1, 2024, the book is now published. You can order a copy, which can be read in the Kindle app. I'm working to format the version for the Kindle device, and after that, the version to be printed on paper. Note that Vivian told me many stories so the book got long. For this reason, the print book will most likely consist of two volumes. 

Thank you!

 - Paul Schafer 

Availability News

  1. Kindle app*: available now.
    Note: On June 6, 2024, a new version that fixed minor errors was uploaded to Amazon. If you purchased a copy before June 6, you can delete it from your device and then download the new version, if you'd like. 

  2. Kindle device: mid-June 2024.

  3. Paperback: late June 2024. 

  4. Hardcover: After the paperback.  

    * You can read the version for Kindle app on a computer, on a tablet, or on a mobile device after you download the free Kindle app from Amazon  (from here). 

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Free Content

Phil and Vivian's Bands

This spreadsheet shows the bands that Phil and Vivian played in between 1962 and 2022, the years each band was active, and the band's members. 

Note: If you were in one of these bands and you notice something that's incorrect or missing, please let me know: Go to Contact the Author and send me a message.

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