February 19, 2010
Collaboration is not a recent phenomenon. Its roots run as deep as the genre itself and beyond, and Keller Williams is no stranger to collaborating with a vast array of artists; he’s performed with the likes of Bob Weir, Jeff Austin, String Cheese Incident, and even Chevy Chase – yes, Clark Griswold himself at the Jammy Awards in early 2008. This is not to mention his actual side projects. And while all of these are wonderful in and unto themselves, there really is nothing like a stripped down K-Dub solo show.
With festivals rampant over the past few years, catching Keller solo has become a much less frequent and even when it occurs, the sets are shortened. This is to the our loss because just watching him roam around the stage like a barefooted cumbersome beast is a joy in its own right, not to mention the vibing that ensues on the whimsical sound that he creates. Keller is a jam fan’s musician. He is a guy who’s familiar with what it’s like to be in the crowd at a given jam show. On this night, it definitely showed as the Freek broke out a set list that was equally fitting for Keller noob and scholar alike- if there is such thing as a Keller scholar.
On the heels of his most recent release, ODD, Keller is coming to a town near you. This night the town was Huntsville, AL. As with any bar or club gig in a college town, there’s always a unique mix of folk, evident by the Rothbury shirts that blended with button down Polos and the Birkenstocks that contrasted the Fuck Me Boots. No big deal.
Crossroads is no stranger to shows; the new venue is much nicer version than its former self, located about a mile down the road in a pile of rubble. It has pool tables upstairs, nice televisions and sofas, and enough bars to accommodate. Security is present, but not overly so. Simply put, it’s a nice place to see a show.
Musically, the show was typical Keller, a blend of hilarity and fun with loops that are impossible to decipher and an innate propensity to make one go "hmmmm?" One thing that stood out is his lack of reluctance to play his newer tracks. The crowd seemed to soak them up like a sham-wow and this was particularly the case with "A Day at the Office." This is a song from ODD that we all can relate to, and its lyrical content is relevant and mildly serious. It encompasses the human desire to spend time with his significant other and family while facing the quandary of just how to do so and take care of them financially with the "Goddamned mortgage" always looming. And since he is Keller, it still comes across as something that can be smiled about.
The unique blend of originals and covers is what makes a Keller show fun for all. An example of this would be the second set opener, The Rolling Stone’s "Gimme Shelter" and the second set closer, Keller original "Best Feeling." This tune is always delightful and always causes the crowd to recall whatever time in their life when they were in that "moment." That tune, coupled with a particularly funky "Celebrate Your Youth" encore, made it seem like December 25 of yesteryear all over again, and the crowd departed with a smiling it was Christmas morning as a child with a supplementary Rasta feeling to boot!
Yes, it was a grand night and one in which Keller did not disappoint. He has been described by many people as many things, but two words come to mind when examining this performance: musician and performer. Dude has got it going on and his "gimmick" has yet to get old, but maybe that just means that it was never a gimmick to begin with.