Cactus Flower

Known as much for her multiple sclerosis as for her songwriting gift, Victoria Williams finds Water to Drink under the wild desert sun

Williams laughs when her story is compared to Survivor, but she admits there's a real pioneer spirit to her life. "Everything's a project," she mock complains. They dug a well and Olson built a stone-lined swimming pool, which sits behind the house, between the solar panels and a donkey corral. Walking from the house to the chaparral bottom, Williams stops to check on the fruit trees -- peaches, plums, apricots and nectarines. A family of quail hops through the grove. Williams picks some fruit, taking a bite of a peach that's been pecked at by some birds. "They manage to find the sweetest ones," she comments, "and I'm not worried about bird spit." Asked about her health, Williams says she's fine, though she has to watch herself; instead of walking around the property, she often bicycles, which she says "puts less stress on my body." And while she's always preferred to act as her own roadie, lugging her amp on and offstage, she now lets others do the job. Still, any physical frailty is countered by what Williams calls her "stubborn, self-sufficient streak." Recently back from a tour opening for Lou Reed, she says that the road can be exhausting and a strain on her health -- but in the same breath complains that the time allotted for her set was too short. "After an hour I'm just getting warmed up," she says, adding that two hours is her ideal set length. "I feel fine these days."

Victoria Williams on life in the desert: "I know all the critters around here ... I talk to them."
Chris Strother
Victoria Williams on life in the desert: "I know all the critters around here ... I talk to them."

Details

Scheduled to perform on Friday, December 15 with Mark Olson, and Howe Gelb. Showtime is 9 p.m.
Nita's Hideaway in Tempe

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