JamBase Questionnaire: Keller Williams

Welcome back to JamBase's baker's dozen of probing, wide-ranging questions to the bright lights in the jam scene (and beyond). Last time we heard from Cornmeal and upcoming installments will include insights from Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey, Reed Mathis and more!

Some folks are wonderful walking dichotomies. Keller Williams gives off an air of jovial brightness but there's dark flurries under the surface. A sprite capable of making massive crowds grin, he's also an intense, serious musician whose playing reflects hours of finger-knotting practice and exploration – even as he skips and flips switches and turns dials on his mad scientist array of effects and machines. Keller is a folkie with a heart for the 21st century, a merger of bluegrass ways and computer speed progress. Curious streams intermingle in the man, and one senses there's all sorts of things going on behind those bright eyes even as they lose themselves in the amp thump freakin' by the speakers at his shows.

Keller Williams by Rod Snyder
Williams' latest offering is a new pairing with The Keels entitled Thief (arriving May 25 on SCI Fidelity). Opening with a rootsy take on Kris Kristofferson's "Don't Cuss The Fiddle," Thief wends through a wild array that shows there's far more than jam bands and the Dead on his personal jukebox. Keller and husband and wife duo Larry and Jenny Keel explore great numbers by Patterson Hood ("Uncle Disney"), Marcy Playground ("Sex and Candy"), and Amy Winehouse ('Rehab"). A few kindred spirits like Danny Barnes and Yonder get the treatment, and hey do swing through Grateful Dead territory ('Mountains of the Moon"), but along the way hit some unexpected gems from the Butthole Surfers ("Pepper"), Ryan Adams ("Cold Roses") and Presidents of the USA ("Bath of Fire") before landing back in Kristofferson's catalog ("The Year 2003 Minus 25"). It's a thoughtfully assembled collection that's played with real skill and little fuss. The trio just digs in and mines out the best parts of these tunes. Every performance feels sincere, which in turn helps make these versions the group's own. In the end one is left with a fuller picture of Keller Williams and the coal that fuels his musical engine. (Dennis Cook)

Here's what Keller had to say to our inquiries.

1. Great music rarely happens without…
Humans. Good music is often made with computers. I love it, but great music rarely happens without humans actually playing instruments. I heard that Toubab Krewe did a laptop set. I thought, "Hmmm. I love Toubab Krewe and I love electronic music. The two together be should interesting." But I was elated when I heard that they proceeded to play the laptops with drumsticks and mallets, smashing and denting them with violent African beats. That's cool.

2. The first album I bought was…
KISS' Destroyer

3. The last song or album to really flip my wig was…
Pimps of Joytime's Funk Fixes and Remixes

4. When I was a kid I wanted to grow up to be…
John Denver

5. My favorite sort of gig is…
One with seating in the balcony and an open floor in front of me. One with a state of the art sounds system with flown speakers, hung in a line array. One with a bathroom backstage. One near a 24-hour Walmart with a McDonald's.

6. One thing I wish people knew about me is…
I have connections in real estate. It's a buyers market right now.

7. I love the sound of…
My kids laughing

8. One day I hope to make an album as fantastic as…
The Mother Hips' Later Days

9. The best meal I ever had on tour was at…
The opening gigs I did for Dave Matthews Band. Their catering team is crazy good.

10. I always find the coolest audiences in…
Asbury Park, New Jersey at The Stone Pony

11. The worst habit I've picked up being on the road all the time is…
Wanting to be on the road all the time

12. The Beatles or the Stones? Por qué?
I'd like to see Paul on bass, Ringo on drums, Keith on guitar and Mick singing and shaking a tambourine. Imagine the backstage and catering at that gig.

13. The craziest thing I ever saw was…
A cop letting me go "with a warning" after stopping me for going the wrong way down the interstate. When I had long hair and a beard. Driving a beat up, 33-foot motorhome. At 3 a.m. That was crazy.

Keller Williams Tour Dates :: Keller Williams News :: Keller Williams Concert Reviews

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[Published on: 5/21/10]

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