Ask Charlie Williams what his favorite noise is and he’ll tell you. It’s water bubbling. And then he’ll do it.
You listen. And you swear you’ve got to check and see if there’s a faucet running somewhere.
“It’s fun to do because I like to see people’s reaction because it sounds just like water from a water cooler or bubbling up from a hole in a boat,” Williams said. “It’s fun to do on the ferries.”
And the sound Williams is most proud of?
It’s a layered sound. When Williams does it, it’s as if a gentle rain is beating on the roof or blowing against a window.
“I’ve cornered that one,” Williams said proudly. “I only could have learned that here in the Northwest. I had to live it.”
Williams is the man of 1,000 sounds. He’s The Noise Guy. And he’s coming to a library near you, believe it or not.
And if you visit him at Granite Falls Library this Saturday, or the Lynnwood Library next week or at Legion Park in Everett the week after that, you’ll discover the amazing abilities of this man and his amplified sound.
You’ll hear planes, trains, race cars, all different kinds of animals, birds and an ode to the toilet.
Even though he likes to have fun, Williams does understand the importance of reading. So he may even take a story, like Goldilocks, and refine it a bit. Or, as he puts it, completely warp it.
“I take the stories and twist them around and make them funny for everybody,” Williams said.
All this noise in the library had a sensible, though ironic, beginning.
Williams was a former librarian. He worked at a library in Wyoming for about five years.
“I always liked the library even though I was always getting kicked out of them,” Williams said. “I liked going in and reading and hanging out with computers, and I figured it was a fun place to work and I thought, well, I’d get some reading done.”
Then, the library there started a story time outreach program on the radio because the communities were so far away. That evolved into something of a sound-effect theater.
Williams discovered that his shows were becoming so popular and that he was so busy that he took the summer off to dedicate himself to his story time theater and to see if he could make a living making noise. Ten years later, he’s found out his noise niche can definitely pay off.
Aside from touring, Williams has done some voice-over noises for a couple of museums, such as a museum in Louisiana that needed him to do alligator sounds, and a raccoon, which Williams produced on the phone as an adorable growly, friendly, chirpy, nashy kind of noise.
Williams’ career really took off much earlier in his life when his parents gave him a Mr. Microphone. He also did lots of sounds in school, where he described himself as the “ambiance” in the classroom.
“I was in the background. I was the mood enhancer,” he said. “If someone was throwing spit balls, I’d do the sound effect of the spitball noise. Ping.”
Today at 39 and with two children of his own, Williams has learned, through the helpful advice of other parents, that he needs to be aware that his routines work better if he works on the side of the parents.
“They told me it would be better to be working on something productive with the kids, so I put it in the reading, and I teach them to do the noises outside. It’s not just more or less for the kids, but for me, too, so the parents aren’t waiting at the stage door with a bat,” Williams said. “They gave me focus.”
Arts writer Theresa Goffredo: 425-339-3424 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Noise Guy, Charlie Williams