Keller Williams is a one man jam band. He's known for playing guitars and vocalizing over loops he records while performing a variety of other instruments, giving him that full "band" sound. He's best appreciated in a live setting, and his latest album Stage captures Williams in front of an audience. In contrast to recent radio play of tunes off his last studio album Laugh ("Freeker by the Speaker," "Kidney in a Cooler"), Stage reveals Keller's music isn't all novelty songs.

In this two-disc set recorded during 2003, Keller delivers some of his best covers--the Grateful Dead's "Bird Song," Jerry Garcia Band's "My Sisters and Brothers," Van Morrison's "Moondance", Queen's "Under Pressure," and Steven Stills' "For What It's Worth." With surprising covers of "Rapper's Delight" and the Michael Jackson disco hit "Don't Stop Till You Get Enough," Williams is clearly not afraid to tackle songs not associated with the usual jam band fare.

The new tune "Gate Crashers Suck" is his story of the ill-fated Dead show of 1995 when concert attendees broke down a fence at Deer Creek. Interspersed on Stage are other new songs like "Keep it Simple" and "Celebrate Your Youth," which seem to celebrate the hippie youth lifestyle, and "Blazebago," about traveling on the road in an RV. With the telling line, "I live from show to show," this guy clearly lives to perform.

Liner notes from Williams himself reveal the first disc, Stage Left, was mostly recorded before an attentive seated audience on the West Coast, while Stage Right "explores the dance party vibe" of the East Coast. Fans of Keller Williams love him dearly and rave about his live shows, and as a credit to his talent, his solo act can hold an audience rapt for two hours. This album should appeal to all fans of his and other curious to hear what the buzz is all about.

Susan J. Weiand
JamBase | California
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[Published on: 8/20/04]

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