Jam Cruise : Live, Backstage & Unplugged Part 1

Written by David Shehi / Photos by / Video by David Shehi

January 24, 2012

As promised, the content that we have brought back from this year’s Jam Cruise will absolutely prove to be our best to date. In fact, there is so much that we are having to stall on publishing it just so that people do not burn out on it. However, with our Live Backstage & Unplugged Series, it is highly unlikely that will happen.

In past segments, we have brought exclusive performances we have had the pleasure of delivering amazing tunes from many, including Sam Bush, Yonder Mountain String Band, Gary Clark, Jr., moe., The Wood Brothers, Emmitt-Nershi, Railroad Earth and many more. The bar has been set high and with this series, it will only continue to rise.

Jam Cruise is simply an event that brings out the best in people and in musicians. There is something about the environment, whether it is the sea breeze blowing in your hair or the outright camaraderie that exists between passengers and artists alike. It is said all the time, but it is true… there simply is nothing quite as amazing as Jam Cruise in the live music world.

In this first segment, we are graced by Keller Williams, Larry Keel and Papa Mali. All three of these amazing talents, one of whom spends the vast majority of his time playing an electric guitar, came to get down.

So sit back, relax and enjoy as Honest Tune is honored to present Jam Cruise: Live, Backstage & Unplugged with Keller, Papa Mali and Larry Keel. Stay tuned for part two with Anders Osborne, Ryan Montbleau, John Oates and Col. Bruce Hampton, Ret.

 

Keller Williams performing “I Am Elvis”

 

Keller Williams

 

As most know, there is nothing quite like a Keller Williams show. In fact, as far as one can tell, there is no one quite like Keller Williams.

Throughout the course of his career, he has given a whole new meaning to the term “one man band.” However, as noted in an Honest Tune interview that came on the heels of his first release with Larry and Jenny Keel, Keller noted that “the intention for [him], even from the beginning, was always to play with humans and actually make music with other people.” He went on to say that “[playing with other musicians] is where camaraderie is built and where communication without language is able to thrive.”

In 2012, that is exactly where Keller will be found (for the most part)… with other musicians. With his 17th album, Bass, now out, Keller will be out in support with backing band, Kdubalicious, and will also be hitting the road with The Travelin’ McCourys and The Keels.

 

Papa Mali (7 Walkers) performing “King Cotton Blues”

 

Papa Mali

 

It seems that Papa Mali has found his permanent home alongside legendary Grateful Dead drummer, Bill Kreutzmann in the 7 Walkers. Within the ensemble that also features multi-instrumentalist Matt Hubbard and New Orleans funk legend, George Porter, Jr. on bass, he has found a place where his years in both the reggae and funk worlds can gracefully collide. Further, with a now lasting friendship with Grateful Dead lyricist Robert Hunter, his already brilliant song-writing capacity has been taken to new heights.

When in the presence of Mali and Kreutzmann, whether for a moment or for an extended period of time, the mutual admiration — on a personal level — creates a glow on both of the musicians’ faces. This is most evident in a yet to be released Honest Tune interview where Kreutzmann (in short) credits Mali with providing him with a feeling of contentment and completion that he has not felt since Jerry Garcia passed away.

What is best is that this admiration and respect between Mali and Bill shines through with pure beauty when the two are on stage together.

 

Larry Keel performing “Love”

 

Larry Keel

 

Trying to find an artist that is more authentic than Larry Keel would be a fruitless adventure. Larry’s Appalachian mountain sound reeks of the place he calls home. When Larry plays, his audience is immediately taken to the place that he loves the most… at home, stoking a fire, pickin’ and swillin’ moonshine.

Of course, all of this fails to mention that Keel is one of the finest picking guitar players on bluegrass scene today and one whose services are in high demand at any festival fortunate enough to have him on the bill.

As a person, authenticity remains highly in tact. Let’s face it, Larry Keel is just a good dude. But as the story goes, behind every good man is a great woman. And in this case, the sentiment certainly holds true with Keel’s better half, Jenny, who also serves as bassist in Larry’s many ensembles, including Larry Keel & Natural Bridge and Keller & The Keels.

With a new record (Classic, due in April) ready to drop, expect to see Larry and Jenny on the road throughout 2012 as they bring their home to your hometown.