Thursday, March 29, 2007

Keller Williams

Today in Music History:

In 1980 Gary Numan hits #9 in the US with "Cars"
Singer, songwriter, and guitarist Keller Williams is literally a one-man jam band. His live shows feature him solo on-stage with a Gibson Echoplex Digital Pro looping unit, and he creates his backing loops in the moment, building and improvising as he goes on his custom-made ten-string guitar, and thanks to his quirky, upbeat, and semi-surreal songs (which he frequently weaves into extended, half-improvised medleys) and his warm, friendly tenor singing voice, Williams is a unique performer whose musical eccentricities don't keep him from being immediately accessible. Williams is a fascinating artist, and his somewhat wacky take on the world, coupled with his amazing and eccentric guitar talents, makes him a refreshing performer.

When Williams started thinking about recording his ninth studio album, he started scratching out a "dream" list of artists he would love to collaborate with in the studio. He told himself "It can’t hurt to dream." To his surprise when he started asking around everyone seemed eager to back him up and thus we have his latest album, Dream. Visitors like String Cheese Incident and Bela Fleck slide in on the jam and jazz grooves, adding texture and body to the skeletal guitar riffs and who-needs-a-rhythm-section solo frenzies. The tracks are quirky and eclectic, mashing up funk, bluegrass, rock and reggae, and Williams's lyrics can be eccentric, as on "Restraint" --"I wanna jump your bones, but you're on the phone and it sounds kind of important." Grateful Dead founder Bob Weir guests on "Cadillac," which imagines cruising with Allah, Buddha, and Santa with Jesus in the back "cuz he knows there ain't no bad seat in my cadillac." How cool of a lyric is that?

In the liner notes Williams writes, "Hello and thank you for buying listening and reading. Welcome to my dream come true. The concept of this recording was to collaborate with my heroes and make a record that I would be proud to crank out in my pimped out golf cart when I'm 80." Actually the list of excellent musicians is too long for my arthritic fingers to type out in one day. The liner notes are great as Keller tells us the impetus for each song on the album and how his guests affected how they went about recording and such.

Myself, I was ignorant of William's existence until my friend John pointed him out to me, he was also was responsible for turning me on to the amazing Grace Potter and the Nocturnals and I am very thankful he did. I understand Dream is a bit of a departure from his earlier work but it has garnered one cat's attention and now I'm going to have to check out some of his other stuff now. Homercat gives Dream four tail wags and recommends it to the cool cats who visit Good Rockin'. The cut I'm featuring here is the first cut on the disc out of 16. The story behind this song is great and explains why the f word is bleeped out, among other things. That's also Williams chunking out that terrific bass riff.

Play This
by Keller Williams
Buy It

Funny Toon


Matt Stevens said...

Keller Williams is a wonderful and inspiring artist