Keller Williams held a benefit concert on December 26, 2015 at the Colonial Tavern in Fred, Virginia in support of the local chapter of the SPCA. The show featured KDub performing bluegrass versions of several classic Tom Petty songs. In response to Petty’s untimely death this week at age 66, Williams shared demos of the bluegrass arrangements from that benefit show, as well as a just-recorded video of a cover of “You Don’t Know How It Feels.”
Keller posted a lengthy note on Facebook detailing the circumstances that lead to his releasing Petty Grass. The “raw” recordings with Jeff Covert and Jay Starling were initially captured as voice memos on Williams’ phone, which a few days ago were mixed and mastered for the freely released 10-track set. Here’s Keller on Petty Grass:
Petty Grass voice memos
It goes without saying, that the past couple of days, have been strange and full of emotion. It’s all I can do to immerse myself further into my music. I’m currently in the studio recording an instrumental record that I am elated with. But yesterday, I was un able to put proper focus in that direction. With the Vegas tragedy and the loss of a musical legend, all on the tail end of multiple natural disasters, I had to look to other people’s music for relief. Instead of recording, Jeff covert (my long time friend, studio engineer/producer/collaborator) and I, listened to Tom Pettys masterful songwriting and reminisced about the project we did together in 2015 called Petty Grass. Bluegrass versions of Tom Petty songs to be played at a benefit that I do every year, the day after Christmas, in Fredericksburg VA. The whole idea began by Jeff and I singing Tom Petty songs on pee breaks at the studio. Jeff is always a whiz at figuring out guitar parts and pulling harmonies out of thin air. So we brought in Jay starling on dobro and put together a set of our favorite Tom Petty songs and did them Bluegrass on 12/26/15 at the Colonial Tavern in Fred VA to benefit our local SPCA. The show was OK but the best part about that project was sitting around and playing Tom Petty songs. When we felt something we thought was close, I would pull out my phone and record it on my voice memo. The next thing you know, I have 15 or so Tom Petty songs done Bluegrass in my Voice Memos. Since December 2015, occasionally I will be out of cell service or simply be tired of my catalog that on my phone and pull up my Voice Memos and listen to the different ideas and recording’s. These Petty Grass voice memos have brought me many a laugh. Naturally, I reached for these recordings in hopes of a smile. I think the coolest thing about it is, it is the purest form of a recording. The truest sense of raw. I also love the way we were extremely loose and not worried about being right, as this was simply a rehearsal and we were just finding our way and taking chances. We were sitting on the couch right next to thousands of dollars of recording equipment and recording this on the cell phone.
Yesterday, we sat on the same couch and listened to all these Petty songs we recorded almost two years earlier. Just for fun, Jeff started messing with enhancing the sound. It turns out, neither one of us knew how to mourn the passing of Tom Petty. So we just enhanced Voice Memos of us playing his songs and it made us happy. We hope that it will make you happy as well in this very tricky and difficult time. This was never meant for release as it is riddled with wrong notes, wrong lyrics and a whole lotta other things that are just plain wrong. But somehow, it made us feel better. Please enjoy.
Jeff Covert Guitar/voice
Jay Starling dobro
In addition to Petty Grass, Keller posted a video recorded on Monday, the day Petty passed away, of a cover of “You Don’t Know How It Feels” from the 1994 LP Wildflowers. Watch the video and stream Petty Grass below: