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Artist Interview: Keller Williams. We talk Groove, Bassnectar, and Grateful Grass!


This past weekend, Keller and the Keels played a breathtaking set during sundown on Saturday at the inaugural Groove Music and Arts festival. Today we had the pleasure of getting to talk to the man himself, Keller Williams. This is what he had to say. Could you start by telling us a little about how you got your start, and some of your major musical influences?

Keller Williams: Well I guess long story short, my first gig was when I was 16 sitting on a stool playing covers in the corner of restaurants, and I did that a couple times. After that, I pretty much kept on pickin’ away at all the bars for 10 or 15 years. Then I started to play in larger venues and theatres. My major influences would have to be Michael Hedges, Jerry Garcia, Bob Weir, and Victor Wooten.

What did you think of the venue this past weekend at the Groove Music and Arts Festival, was it your first time at Shadows Ranch?

KW: Yes it was. I had heard beautiful things about the Sonic Bloom fest that was held on that site and also heard the venue was magical; I was very excited to check it out.


This past weekend at Groove you and the Keels put on a great show. How did the group feel about the gig?

KW: We loved it man, every time we play together we have a great time. It happens so infrequently that when it does happen it’s something special, and that was kind of our mindset from the get-go of this project, which is little over 10 years ago now.

How did you start playing with the Keels?

KW: Well, I think we met at an open mic night that I was running in Fredericksburg, VA in about 1991. By 1993, we had crossed paths at festivals and other events, but it wasn’t until 2003-04 that we really came together as a 3 piece. Then in ’06 we put out the first record.

Who are some artists you would like to collaborate with for the first time?

KW: Hmm, that’s a tricky one, because there are so many. I’ll go with Rodney Williams, Rob Wasserman, Eric Krasno, and um…Bassnectar!


KW: Yea, Bassnectar. It’s super fun to go stand in the middle of a Bassnectar show to feel that power and shier volume of sternum rattling, pant-shaking sound that comes outta those speakers.

If you could have a Keller Williams Super Jam, who would be playing with you?

KW: All right, lets see. On drums I would want Jeff Sipe and Toby Fairchild, Keith Mosley on electric bass, Gib Troll and Steve Kimock on guitar, Gerard Johnson on Keys, Sugar Davis and Tonya Jackson on back up harmonies, Jason Carter on fiddle, Ronnie McCoury on Mandolin, Rob McCoury on electric banjo through an amp with a bunch of pedals. Then Alan Bartram on up right bow bass; so there would be 2 bassist but 1 on bow bass. And then add Larry Keel on Electric guitar and Jenny keel in the middle of Tonya Jackson and Sugar Davis as a third back up vocals.


Wow, that is quite the Super Jam! You seem like a very happy person, do you have any advice on life for your fans?

KW: Wow, some quick advice on being happy. Set the bar low. (He says laughing) Expect the worst, and when it does happen you expected it, and that will help you cope. When it doesn’t happen, that’s a reason for you to celebrate.

For example, when you go to the airport expect your plane to be canceled, and when it is; it’s all-good because you expected it. Then expect your bags to not come down the baggage claim, and when they do; expect the bags to be broken. When they aren’t, you have a reason to celebrate.

You obviously have a very good relationship with The String Cheese Incident, how did that happen?

KW: When I made my first stop out in Colorado it was for the 1995 Telluride Bluegrass Festival. I got to see Cheese as a 4 piece in a basement and they were jumping around from bluegrass, to funk, to jazz, to salsa, to calypso, and then back to bluegrass, and it was exactly what I was looking for at that time. Then that summer I went and saw them anywhere I could in the Colorado area. To jump ahead to 1996, I opened for them 2 nights in a row at the Fox Theatre in Boulder, then after that I went on tour with them in spring of 1997 and opened up about 80 shows in a year and a half or so. It’s been a long time since I’ve actually done a whole show with them though.

What’s for you? Doing anymore work with “More then a Little” or the McCoury’s?

KW: Well a lot of Grateful Grass stuff is going on this summer. We have Gathering of the Vibes coming up, then YarmonyGrass Festival back out in Colorado with the original Grateful Grass lineup of Keith Mosley, Jeff Austin, and myself.

That sounds great Keller, cant wait to hear it! Thank you so much for taking time to talk with us. Can’t wait until next time.

KW: No problem, and thank you!

To keep up with Keller and check out upcoming shows check out his website


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