March 31, 2011
Keller Williams’ music is a meshing of many styles ranging from Bluegrass to Electronica and sis fans are as colorful as his vast number of musical influences. Having played to a sold out crowd during his last visit to Birmingham’s WorkPlay, Mr. Williams opted to showcase his wonderful talents to a much more intimate gathering this go-round. During the self-introduction of his first set, he jokingly made his preference for the venue’s smaller theater known. A few hundred enthusiastic fans wrapped themselves closely around the stage, embracing the warm, cozy atmosphere Keller’s music would create. As the groove got started, Keller playfully taunted his admirers with his signature smiley faces that he uses to articulate the overall feel good vibe of his tunes.
A semi-circle arrangement of guitars, drum machine things and other electronic apparatuses accompanied Keller on stage as if to have been waiting for their players. But those familiar with KDub’s format knew what to expect and were eager to see and hear the magical impromptu entanglements Keller would involve them in.
The Workplay fans showed their appreciation for Keller’s offering by mouthing the words to all of his songs, while others celebrated in dance during the many extended jam sessions Keller induced. This non verbal exchange would be common place between Keller and his fans throughout the night. It’s encouraged. He frolicked in cohesive unison across the stage, from one instrument to the other. Not to let one instrument have all the glory, his actions resembled a musician trying to outperform himself. Much like the constant swing of a metronome, the back and forth sway of Keller’s body kept the beat.
Barefoot with guitar in hand, Keller performed signature crowd pleasers from his new and old catalog. During a highpoint of the evening Keller paid homage to some of his favorites by barreling through a barrage of cover tunes including the Grateful Dead’s “Scarlett Begonias” and a “Fire on the Mountain” jam, perhaps better known to Dead connoisseurs as the abbreviated “Scarlet > Fire.” The segues didn’t stop with GD numbers; Keller included a befitting “Dead or Alive” (Bon Jovi) sandwiched between Keller’s “Bounty Hunter” and the Allman’s “Midnight Rider.”
Keller makes it a point to be interactive with his fans, who often throw notes onstage expressing impromptu setlist wishes. A group of influential female fans gave Keller homemade drawings which he naturally used as visual aids during the performance of crowd pleaser “Kidney in a Cooler.”
The show, as wonderful as it had been, soon came to an end. Afterwards Keller slipped back into a quiet spot in the backstage area to cool down. He spoke briefly about the toils of the day that were specific to the Birmingham show. He mentioned the last minute change of venue and joked about the airline’s shipping mishap which resulted in the misplacement of important equipment. The mishap didn’t seem to freak him out nearly as bad as the time that he lost the “Doobie in (his) Pocket.” Rather, it all seemed to just roll off his shoulders as evidenced by a sly grin of contentedness that formed across his face.
He was happy.
CLICK THE THUMBNAIL TO VIEW THE PHOTOS from the evening with Keller by Andi Rice