Keller Williams returns to Keystone with new group of ‘Compadres’
If you go
What: Keller Williams and His Compadres
When: Friday, Dec. 19, and Saturday, Dec. 20; doors open at 8 p.m., music at 9
Where: Warren Station Center for the Arts, Keystone
Cost: $30 per show or $55 for a two-night pass
More information: Tickets available at http://www.warrenstation.com; historically, the concerts have sold out online.
In December 2012, the Mayan calendar ran out, leading doomsday believers to fear it would be the end of the world. But Keller Williams, in his tongue-in-cheek fashion, decided to fight back with a party.
Dubbed “Defyin’ the Mayans,” his solstice-inspired pair of concerts at Warren Station in Keystone included special guests Keith Moseley and Billy Nershi of The String Cheese Incident for the Friday night soiree and offered up refunds for the Saturday show with Moseley and Kyle Hollingsworth of String Cheese and Dave Watts of The Motet if the world did, in fact, end on Friday.
Luckily for music fans and the rest of the planet, the world continued to spin, and Williams decided to make a habit of coming back to Keystone in consecutive years around solstice time, bringing along various musicians and retitling the two-concert series “Keller Williams and His Compadres.” The shows return for the third year in a row on Friday, Dec. 19, and Saturday, Dec. 20.
Williams said each year that he has made the trek to Keystone, the energy has been super high and the shows have been a lot of fun.
“It’s been different, and yet there’s elements of similarity. One of them is I’ll open solo each night and then have the group the second set,” he said. “And this year, it’s really, really cool because I get to play bluegrass bass the second set the first night.”
On Friday, Dec. 19, it will be “Keller and the Andys” — Andy Thorn from Leftover Salmon and Andy Hall and Andy Falco from the Infamous Stringdusters. On Saturday, Dec. 20, it’s “Williams with Moseley, Droll and Sipe,” featuring the end-of-the-world return of Moseley, plus Gibb Droll on guitar and Leftover Salmon’s Jeff Sipe on drums.
“This is kind of a revisitation of a project that we had together spring 2007 to fall 2008 called ‘Keller Williams with Moseley, Droll and Sipe,’” Williams said of Saturday’s concert. “We put out a big triple disk that I’m quite proud of (“Live,” 2008). This is a really special project for me, one I’m excited to revisit and can’t wait to do it in Keystone.”
Choosing friends to join him on stage usually starts with Williams plucking from the local music scene, he said, in this case, Colorado.
“That’s what it’s always branched from, kind of using my friends that live in the area that can come up for the day or for the night,” he said. “This year, I’m branching out a little bit, flying in a few folks, but it’s still a heavy Colorado contingency with members of the Infamous Stringdusters, Leftover Salmon and The String Cheese Incident.”
NOT A HOLIDAY SHOW
Though the Keystone shows fall near the holiday season, and though Williams returns to his hometown of Fredericksburg, Virginia, the day after Christmas each year to play a fundraiser for the ASPCA, the musician was clear that he’s not a fan of Christmas carols and holiday tunes.
“I promise, 100 percent, there will be no holiday music,” Williams said. “It’s just awful. It’s just bad music, and I would never have that remotely within earshot of anything I’m involved with, I promise.”
In fact, Williams has made only one foray into the realm of holiday jingles, when he was approached by the Jam On channel on Sirius Satellite Radio to do a Christmas song.
“There is a song that you can Google. It’s called ‘I Really Hate Christmas,’ by Keller Williams, and I did it many years ago,” he said. “I think it was the second day that I had quit nicotine, so I was really not in a good way, and I made up this song. It’s not really about hating Christmas; it’s about hating Christmas music.
“You can Google it, but I don’t recommend that you do. I’d recommend that you stay away from it, but no, there’s no Christmas record coming ever.”
With a little searching, the song pops up on Williams’ website, an angry homage to the stress and lackluster tunes of the holidays set to the melody of “We Wish You a Merry Christmas.” It likely won’t ever become a classic, but as Williams pointed out, he’s not in the business of peddling saccharine holiday music. Instead, he has his sights focused on his next serious project.
“I’m putting the finishing touches on a brand new record to come out hopefully this April called ‘Va.PE,’” he said. “It’s an acronym for Virginia Psychedelic Excursion, and it’s an acoustic record but veering into acoustic dance music, big beats with probably bass and acoustic guitar; veering into the world of dance music with acoustic instruments.
“I’m really excited about it and it’s all I’ve been thinking about for the past couple of weeks. I think my family is really excited for it to be done and for me to stop obsessing over it. It’s a record I’ve been really excited about making for a long time.”
In the meantime, if you need a musical interlude from the holiday madness, catch Williams and his compadres at Warren Station in Keystone.
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