WILLIAMS, Ariz. - Attend a few events and fundraisers around Williams and you're bound to catch a performance of area rock and roll favorites the Sweet Lemon. Fans of the band looking for more are in luck. Lemon guitarist and singer Dennis Nelson is releasing his first solo record this Saturday.
The CD release party will feature the Sweet Lemon performing all 10 original compositions from the recording "Friday Night in Williams" Friday at 6 p.m. at the Wild West Junction located at 321 E. Route 66.
Nelson, who recorded his new record under the name Denny Ray, said he's been writing music on and off for the last 10 or 15 years but never got around to making a recording. With the addition of a handful of new songs written over the last few years, the time was right to head into the studio.
Once he found the Studio on 17th Street in Tucson, Nelson said all the pieces fell together.
"It was a really good fit," he said. "I got together with some really good musicians down there."
Sessions for the album began in January and, between initial recording, overdubbing, mixing and mastering, wrapped up about eight months later. Nelson said it took a little bit of adjusting to get comfortable in the studio environment.
"As a live musician, I didn't really appreciate what was involved," Nelson said.
Jim Stanley, the owner of 17th Street, engineered the recording and helped Nelson find his backing band. He played bass on the record as well.
Nelson said personality-wise he and Stanley clicked immediately.
As far as the backing band goes, Nelson said he was lucky to play with such talented musicians. The keyboard player, Mark Yeary, played with Merle Haggard for close to 10 years and now leads a Haggard tribute show in Casa Grande with Haggards son Marty.
Nelson brought complete song arrangements to the studio but said once rhythm tracks were complete the musicians improvised lead parts on the fly.
While the solo record doesn't feature members of the Sweet Lemon, Nelson said the band is still going strong.
"This just makes it a little more interesting because we have original songs to do," he said. "Probably about half of the songs we've already been playing in our lineup. We just haven't made much to do about the fact that I wrote them."
The albums last track "Tropical Tan" has been in the set list for a couple years. Nelson said response has been good.
Many of the song lyrics are Williams-centric.
The title song and lead-off track "Friday Night in Williams" is essentially a celebration of Williams varied attractions, from animal theme parks to fantastic dining and drinking options.
"It's kind of fun because there are a lot of lyrics that refer to local restaurants and bars in town, things like that," Nelson said. "That's kind of fun."
Another track, Bobbi Lou Rock, is written about Nelson's wife Barb, a former Williams High School cheerleader along with Williams resident Cookie Dent.
"It's kind of a Williams High School cheerleader song," Nelson said.
The release party will also serve as a fundraiser for the Williams Own Veterans Memorial. All money from CD sales the night of the party will go to the memorial fund. The Wild West Junction will also donate a portion of food proceeds to the fund as well.