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Written by: Matthew McGuire
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Keller Williams is touring coast to coast this fall and we caught up with before he ventured off to the northeast for a set of shows. This weekend he will be performing in Portland, Boston and Burlington. It was an honor to talk with Keller on the phone in the early afternoon hours of Wednesday, November 5. I opened by asking him if he was at home or currently on the road.

 

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Q. Are you on the road or at home?

I am in the kitchen in my house, and we are just chilling out. I’ve got children that are 6 and 10. So there is lots of bananas and easy fruits to grab and go. There is these really cool cheese sticks that you can peel back with a hand full of almonds. In the refrigerator you open it up and see these  hummus little individual lunchbox size yogurts and all kinds of good healthy stuff.

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Q. What memories from Hulaween stand out right away for you?

Well, that particular event was an in and out thing for me that was setup for me to arrive at 1:30 and left around midnight that night. I was there for a good time, but I was brought on to that bill about a month ago. Nicky Sanders was available, and I never really met him or hung out with him before. So, I sent him and Reed Mathis a Dropbox of a bunch of tunes. As soon as we got there we started running those tunes. I think that it is kind of a stand out thing to be playing in front of a few thousand people with folks you have never played with before. There is that whole energy that is involved with that, and that is a super fun way to spend a couple hours in the afternoon.

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Q. A lot of that recent Grateful Grass record sounds like a studio recorded album. Even though it was recorded live, doesn’t it still have a studio vibe to it?

I think that was mixed by Lou Gosain who is my front of the house engineer and tour manager. It was right off the soundboard, as well as some audience microphones. The really cool thing about that particular recording in comparison to the first recording we did a couple years back. Both were at at The Fillmore. One was at Denver, and one was at San Francisco. The one most recent was a benefit for the Rex Foundation. So, it was seated and table situation where everyone were seated and silent, but cheered when they were supposed to, which was good.

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Q. Will the guests that come out for the shows on your fall tour experience your latest music?

I am really excited about this new record that I just completed that is going to be mixed the second week of December. It is a solo record, but has some really great players on it. I’m really excited to share it with folks. As soon as I get a song, I am playing it live. As soon as a song is in my repertoire its pretty much been played live.  While these songs have been road tested over the years, but never really found a home on a record. This is a big record for me and my brain because there are a lot of songs that have been floating that get to get to bed so to speak. So, I am excited to get to do that with some of these tunes.

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Q. This past September Bob Weir was not feeling well. Have you heard how Bob has been doing recently?

I’m not as tight as I would like to be with Bob. I knew he needed a break, and he needed some resting time. And that is exactly what he did. The reports are good, that he is well rested, and things are good with Bobby, but that is what I have heard, and not through Bobby.

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Q. Do you make the set lists the day of the show, or in advance? Does it reflect your mood?

Yeah, you know for the Lockn’ sets were with Jason Carter on fiddle, Jay Sterling on dobro, plus I put in a couple extra new tunes too that we have never done before. So, I think I made the setlist a couple weeks out so everyone brought their A game. I’ll keep track of every set that I play, or Lou my front of the house engineer does. When I go back to a scene I’ll look at that set from what I did last time. I’ll start there and not play any of these songs. Use process of elimination kind of thing. Try to not play the same stuff I played from the previous night. There is a lot of thought that goes into a set list, but yeah there is definitely songs that I waking up thinking of it, weather I played it the night before or the year before.

There is no real rules.

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Q. What kind of vibe or mood does Carbondale invoke to you?

Well, the Copper Dragon whole scene is a super young and hungry mecca of energy it seems like. I really only hang out in that part of town, so that is all I know. It is high energy, and it is love, but when I play there it feels like I am towering over people. The stage is so tall, but yet, you are in this really interesting room. The energy is usually pretty hot. I really love the staff there, and the people that bring me there.

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Q. Can you discuss the musicians you are playing with on your next record?

Sure, Sam Grisman on upright bass for like 5 or 6 songs. There is a track I recorded with The Travelin’ McCoury’s a year or two ago. It never really found a place on the record we did. I think it was recorded after the record was done, and we were thinking pushing one of the songs to a B side with something newer. We mixed it to have a more of a dance groove. John Kadlecik from Furthur who is on the first and the last song, and then a lot of programmed drum beats that I had a hand in. There is a couple guys from Fredericksburg on one track. A guy name John Buck on bass and Brian Barber on drums. It has kind of a dance groove with a lot of acoustic music and a little JK on the front and the back of the record.

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The Williams crew just announced 3 big shows with The Infamous Stringdusters in the Pacific Northwest.

3/5 – McDonald Theatre – Eugene, OR
3/6 – Showbox – Seattle, WA
3/7 – Wonder Ballroom – Portland, OR


 

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