February 19, 2011 (Kids Matinee)
For many of us, some of our most splendid memories were born on a concert field, in a club, or other venue wherein live music is the sport of choice. We recall "that time when all of us loaded up and took off to Deer Creek" on nothing more than a whim. But time is a funny thing. With it, we grow older and whimsical journeys become fewer and further in between. Splendid memories of the past become replaced by moments of the present. That time when "we covered eight states, crossed the border, and caught String Cheese at The Tabernacle on the way home in a grand total of four days" is replaced by "that time when my wife walked down the aisle" or the most epic of them all, "the day I met my son." Yet music, like love, never dies. So the question that many face is "how do I incorporate my love of family into my love of live music?"
Sure there is the occasional time, particularly as children get older, when an occasional festival or show will be family-friendly enough to take the young ones. But the majority of the environs that house the types of events that jam scenesters care to indulge are smoke filled, beer-sweaty, too loud, and the bands start way too late for the idea of taking a child to even be considered. And then there was the Keller Williams KIDS show.
Williams released Kids in the late fall of 2010 and from the moment it was announced, most knew that the fit would be like hand in glove. Upon listening, it was typical Keller with a twist. Instead of allegorical tunes about "doobies in pockets" or "delivering kidneys" the silliness incorporated into these tunes was about the awesomeness of riding in space shuttle car seats or better yet, mom farting.
The latter, "Mama Tooted" would open up the mid-day show at Atlanta’s Variety Playhouse on a recent Saturday afternoon. However even before Keller took the stage, the event was clearly geared to the babies and big girls. Upon entry, each child was given a glow stick to either A) hit their sister with, B) chew on or best of all, C) use as a drumstick in the pre-show children’s drum circle that was being led by Everybody Drum‘s Ken Crampton who brought along enough tambourines, triangles, congos and bongos to fill every hand in the building. No matter how the glow stick was utilized, it was a great gesture that didn’t end there. The second sight was a table that was filled with everything mom and dad could have sworn was in the diaper bag but of course wasn’t: diapers, wipes, and for good measure, pacifiers. Last but not least, upon looking up, there were balloons that were hanging from the ceiling to the extent that is usually only seen at New Year’s festivities.
With the kids warmed up and ready to go, Keller took the stage with the flatulophilia laden number. Seeing hippy mommies lifting a leg to "toot" on their kids while dads looked on pinching their noses and pointing at said hippy mamas to the chagrin of their poot basking children was enough to split a side in gut jiggling laughter. However, Keller one upped them all and upon the first chorus, he released a shot of confetti to symbolize the passing of gas from mama’s ass. As the kids giggled it was hard to tell who enjoyed it more, them or their equally fart loving parents (self and wife included).
The set continued with the remainder of Kids being played with the visual aide of animals, storybook scenes, babies, and fun colors being displayed on the projection screen that hung behind Williams. Every now and then, Keller would stop to play with his own toys as though he were a bragging kid on a playground. Yet he also took the opportunity to engage the children into the art of music. "Do you guys know how I make all of this music by myself?" he questioned. "I take this sound and loop it like this" he described before demonstration. "How many of you guys think I can make this guitar sound like a harmonica?" he inquired. As hands shot up in the air and "meees" and "not meees" echoed throughout the playhouse, sure enough the guitar would sound just like a harmonica; though it was tough to tell who was more pleased, the kids or Keller. See that is what this show did. It turned the adults, including Williams, into children. There was none of the standard "this is my dance space" or other rudeness. Rather, sharing was the game of the day. It was like being at the park except for one thing: the children were digging on the same music as the parents and it was being performed by a guy that most in attendance have been seeing since college or before.
For the finale, balloons were released onto the awe ridden kids. As balloons popped and were bouncing around the room, an extended rendition of "Freeker by The Speaker" was played that culminated in children, including Keller’s daughter (who also appears at multiple places on the album), hula hooping with glow in the dark hoops to an improvised percussive jam and the clapping of the crowd.
As the house lights warmed up and illuminated the room, Keller took to the brass and high stepped his way down the aisle to "When the Saints Go Marching In" with a line of kids and parents forming behind him and singing in New Orleans style parade fashion.
It is moments like this show in its entirety that are simply special. Family affairs that are equally enjoyed by all are too often rarities. Keller Williams has managed to take his already playful spirit and deliver it equally as well to the children of his fans as he does on any given night at any tour stop. He clearly enjoyed every moment, commenting afterward, "Man, that was a really good time" as he had his hand on his daughter’s head. Perhaps his motivation was the same as those in attendance — to enjoy live music with those nearest and dearest to our heart.
Click the thumbnail to View David Shehi’s Shots from the show!
Honest Tune currently has a contest underway for a signed copy of Keller Williams’ Kids. For details, click here.