"Music is something that is a constant in my head, whether it be something I wrote or not. The stuff that I cover usually just takes me over without me having to learn it... It feels more as though the song absorbs me rather then me the song."
--Keller Williams
Photo by C Taylor Crothers

Yeah, lots of different acts though, I probably have three songs recorded now with just my studio engineer and myself, his name is Jeff Colvert. He did the Home and Dance records with me as well as he helped me mix Stage. He himself is just a fantastic musician; he did a lot of stage work in his teenage years and his early 20s, but is now primarily focusing on studio work.

Is he someone that is behind the vast ever-growing stage arrangement that you have? Most notably was the addition of the ironing board to your last tour, how did you decide on that (laughs)?

Keller Williams :: Jam Cruise 03
By David Vann
Right (laughs). Well, the ironing board pretty much just came from me getting into the slide. I have really been wanting to go into the twangy dobro section, and kind of take the guitar and raise the action on it and give it a warm acoustic slide. Have you ever heard of Kelly Joe Phelps? He's pretty much out of his slide faze, but there was a while where he was just turning around with these old Martins and playing slide, and it sounded so good. I got the inspiration from him, but I didn't want to sit down and I didn't want some crazy strap going under my arm while I am trying to play dobro style, so I got that ironing board out and set the guitar on that thing and just walked on up to it and it worked. I think the next step is to get rid of the ironing board and get some custom three-legged stand for that guitar so it sits up kind of high. But then again the ironing board has that extra personality.

The ironing board has the ultimate personality. I think it fits the Keller Williams persona perfectly (both laugh). There have been so many things that people are exposed to by getting into your music. I can say for myself that I have been directed toward musicians like Martin Sexton and Michael Hedges, both huge influences on you, but I have also been subjected to other styles and sounds that are not too common. Your use of the Theremin is especially true in this instance. How did you add that into your live shows?

By Zack Smith
The Theremin is definitely coming along, I just don't practice that thing as much as I would like. You know who I saw use it that gave me the inspiration to bring it out was Joseph Wooten, Victor's brother. I don't know if you ever saw when Victor and Joseph and Reggie went out on tour a while back, but Joseph was up on keys and was doing this scratch and slap thing with that Theremin, and I researched it and found that you can get one for real cheap and they are small and compatible and it is very much a digital instrument.

It has such a unique sound. I was actually at an ALO show recently and noticed that Zach Gill, the keyboardist, has a mini-Theremin on his setup. If you haven't heard of them you should check them out, they are doing some cool stuff right now.

I think I have heard about them through High Sierra, but I will have to check them out. You know who is a bad ass Theremin player is the dude from Polyphonic Spree.


Yeah. There are not too many good examples of Theremin players out there, they just don't exist. But this guy can really play it, and he pulls these notes right out of thin air, and the right notes at that. They are actually pretty cool, a cross between Jesus Christ Super Star and Sgt. Pepper. It's really interesting though, you know, because it's the guy from Tripping Daises and he had some hits on the radio, kind of like stoner punk pop. I am not sure how the story goes, but I think he lost one of the band members, so instead of going back and replacing him he surrounded himself with a full orchestra and nine person choir and put everyone in white robes. It's just this bigger then normal thing that is happening on stage and it is really something to behold--that's for sure.

Yeah, I've actually heard nothing but really positive things about them. So going back to this new album--after it's done, do you have plans to tour with a band behind you? Have you thought about doing a full tour with a band, or do you like to keep it a solo thing?

By Danny Clinch
I'm always thinking about how to make the show different and unique. Or even how just for me to make it different, not just necessarily the show, and I am always thinking about having a band, whether to recruit some young folks from around here and be able to rehearse or to even try and go big and get some bigger names. My problem is the rehearsal period. This past summer, I was lucky enough to fly out and play a festival on the weekends and still come home and have a normal life during the weeks, so my problem is finding the time to really commit time to rehearse, whether it be with the young and hungry up-and-comers or bigger names. The other thing is my big problem with actually feeling comfortable enough to actually take it to the stage and charge money for it. I don't ever want to take anything half-assed to the stage, and at the same time, I don't think I can really afford to rehearse with these big names for months at a time and pay them their price to rehearse. I actually don't know if that would be the case at all, because I haven't really investigated it, but in any case I think it would take a good month of playing every day in a rehearsal situation before I could be comfortable enough to play out, and that is just not realistic right now. People just don't go and rehearse for a month, unless you are Incubus (Both laugh).

How did you decide to have Lou bring out the trumpet in this past tour? The flugel trumpet duos have been a definite highlight in the shows. How did that come about?

By C Taylor Crothers
Well, Lou and I had both been in Marching Band, but he took it a bit further then I did and did it in college too, whereas I was kind of out of it by my sophomore year. After doing it through eighth grade and ninth grade, by tenth I just bombed out. So I played a little trombone and Lou played trumpet, but he studied pretty extensively in college, and there was a while there where we were coming up with these different horn parts between the two of us just goofing around. I think what it really was when I obtained that deer spotlight. I was trying to figure out how I could use it at some point in the show and one day I was like, "Dude, you need to solo during the show, and I'll hit you with the deer spot from the stage, and we'll make the back of the room the front." Well, some nights it totally worked, and other nights it didn't because I couldn't even find him with the light cause the soundboard is the same level or he was just lost in the audience with the people all over the place and putting their hands up. So that's pretty much where that came from, and Lou is a really good trumpet player, and we have been having a good time doing that.

There has been a bit of speculation going around camp that Lou has been working sound with a couple other bands and has not been at certain shows and might possibly be leaving soon. I'm not sure if you are able to comment on that.

Oh no. Every year for Memorial Day, there is a party called the North Carolina Boogie and it's been going on for years and years. Well, that is the one day a year that my entire road crew wants to be off. So I just played three shows in three different cities ending with Summercamp, and people were noticing that he wasn't there, because he was at his yearly party. So that is kind of where that came from, but Lou is still very much part of the band and he's still in it and is not going anywhere according to my general knowledge.

Well, I will wrap it up here, I know that you have some things to attend to, but I wanted to extend big thanks to you once again for taking the time to talk with me.

It's been my pleasure. It's good to talk with JamBase. I'm happy to get press, especially in that area.

There's a lot of love for you both at JamBase and in the community as a whole, so I know I'm not alone in thanking you.

My last question for you is after this tour with Bela, are you going to be off the road for a while and focusing on this new album?

I have a few shows at the start of September, but after that I'm off the road all the way through October with a few weekend spots in November and hopefully finishing up the new record in December and January.

Matt Layton
JamBase | San Francisco
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[Published on: 7/7/04]

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