Before embarking on dream, Keller Williams’ newest, most rewarding recording project, he scratched out a wish list of artists he’d like to collaborate with in the studio. Because Williams, a restless troubadour, has been a fan of and tour mate with so many excellent musicians, his list of names—including lots of musicians he admires most—ran long and ambitious. “It was a totally unrealistic vision,” he says. “The idea was that all we could do was ask, and the worst they could do was say ‘No.’” The amazing thing is, the musicians he asked didn’t say “No.” And that’s how Keller’s dream came true. Partial to one-word titles, Williams coined the album because it best described the experience. “That’s what this record was,” he says. “It was incredibly rewarding.”
Of course, when your dream team consists of outsized talents like Bob Weir, Béla Fleck, John Scofield, Charlie Hunter, Victor Wooten, The String Cheese Incident, Steve Kimock, and more, well, you’re going to encounter an obstacle or two. Scheduling snags held up completion of the album for nearly three years. It took Weir a year to find a date for Keller, but when he did, and he invited Keller into his home studio to do “Cadillac,” Keller found himself living, well, another dream. Likewise for his work with Béla Fleck. Keller and Béla began their collaboration, “People Watchin’,” in the summer of 2004 but it wasn’t finished until two years later. In fact, since this project began, Keller released the double live, Stage (2004), the DVD, Sight (2005), and most recently a bluegrass record, Grass (featuring Larry and Jenny Keel), not to mention hundreds of gigs.
But Keller never gave up on his dream. Armed with gentle persistence and plenty of patience, he slowly but surely started to realize his vision, accumulating a star-studded array of recording partners as the magnitude of the project became increasingly clear. “To be honest, I wasn’t really thinking about public opinion for this record,” Keller admits. “It was all for me. Mostly I just wanted to be able to crank these songs up in my pimped-out golf-cart when I’m 80. Some of these artists are living legends and will be appreciated long after we’re gone. I’m extremely proud right now, but I’ll be even more ecstatic when I’m older and can look back on this record and wonder, ‘How the hell did that happen?’”
dream is miraculous in more than just a logistical sense. To begin with, the material, 16 tracks in all, is unblemished; a cataract of electrifying musical alliances. With Williams’ rapturous innovations and his earthy, barefoot-in-the-park presentation as an anchor, songs like “Celebrate Your Youth” (with his pals in Modereko) and the riveting “Ninja of Love” (with Michael Franti) emerge in an endless fount of mesmerizing entertainment.
Because a handful of his collaborators were six-stringers, many of these tracks find Keller moving his own guitar responsibilities into the shadows, sometimes even picking up the bass instead, which, incidentally he plays surprisingly well. “When you bring in guitar players like Kimock, Hunter, Scofield, and Fareed Haque,” he says, “it doesn’t make sense to compete with them. I’ve always had this dream that I would be the bass player in a power trio with Steve Kimock.” On the magical instrumental “Twinkle” he fulfills that dream as well. “The power trio vision was a short-lived one, but it became a reality.”
On “Kiwi and the Apricot,” Williams’ acoustic rhythms provide a bed for Charlie Hunter’s ample eight-string punctuations. “Charlie came in, heard the song and said, ‘OK, this is how we’re gonna do it,’ which is exactly what I wanted.
Which is another one of dream’s miraculous qualities: Assembling such luminous talent is one thing. Feeding them challenging material is another. Williams refers to his customary writing MO as simple. “Normally, my stuff is like verse/verse/bridge/chorus, verse/bridge/chorus. But in order to be interesting to a world class player like Victor Wooten—a guy who plays 50 to 60 songs by Béla Fleck, complex compositions all infused with classical training—I needed to come up with something a little bit more, uh, difficult.”
For starters, Keller didn’t send any charts or advance tips to his collaborators, choosing instead to let them come up with stuff on their own. Some songs were written specifically for his partners, some were songs that have resided in Williams’ repertoire for years, finally getting a shot at ultimate renditions of those songs. Keller wrote tunes expressly for Weir and Franti, for example, but he let Scofield take a whack of his own at “Got No Feathers,” which also features Wooten on bass and Jeff Sipe on drums. “John does so many things, I really didn’t know what I was going to get,” Keller says. “But he settled right in and like all great musicians he made it his own pretty much instantly.”
Many of the songs on dream have been shaped and reshaped countless times through Williams’ own acclaimed performances. Known, of course, for his astonishing one-man show, he surrounds himself with instruments and pedals and slides from one to the next. While the tunes are rooted in Williams’ warm voice and spirited acoustic guitar, he gives them depth and breadth via looping and delay. Soon he was accompanying himself, looping several instruments, and filling up an entire room with lush layers of sound … just one man and a humongous imagination.
Keller’s been refining this kind of performance art for almost 15 years, logging over 100 gigs annually, and he’s a productive recording artist as well. dream is Williams’ ninth studio release so far. He began recording in earnest back in 1993, after serving time in cover bands in high school and college. He got his first big break in 1997 when The String Cheese Incident gave Keller, a Fredericksburg, Virginia native, an opening slot on their tour, after he volunteered to do it for free. From that point, Williams began to grow an audience of his own, gradually winning fans through non-stop grassroots touring, beguiling performances, and talented and entertaining recordings. His calling card? A creative combination of talent and technology. Dream serves as a culmination of that approach.
“I can only hope that the people who’ve followed my career this far, the audiences and the taping community, are as thrilled about this project as I am,” he says. “From my perspective as a fan, to be able to work amid such greatness was very humbling and it made dream an amazingly human experience.”
Bob Weir and RatDog and Keller Williams will cross the country this summer, sharing a stage both separately and together, making music and doing what they do best. The tour will begin in Atlanta on July 7th and end in Los Angeles on July 28th.
Bob Weir is a founding member of the legendary Grateful Dead. He founded RatDog as a duo in 1995, and over the succeeding years he has enlisted Jay Lane (drums), Jeff Chimenti (keyboards), Mark Karan (lead guitar), Kenny Brooks (saxophone), and Robin Sylvester (bass). RatDog plays not only Bob’s various solo material but the complete Grateful Dead repertoire, and has evolved from an elegant duo to a snarling beast of a rock band that contains a jazz trio at its heart
Keller Williams has been called guitar’s mad-scientist and a one-man-band for the new millennium. Williams is considered by some, but not by himself, to be a master of the acoustic guitar, known for his ability to solo over layers of spontaneously created loops. He is a generous performer who plays down-to-earth acoustic music that defies any effort to find a convenient pigeonhole. If pressed for a definition, Williams, as adept with language as he is with a guitar pick, calls it solo, acoustic jazzfunk reggae technograss – or simply - solo acoustic dance music.
Sometimes musicians tour together purely because of business. These guys actually like each other, as evidenced by the tune “Cadillac” on Keller’s recently released new album on SciFidelity, Dream , a duet between Keller and Bob. Recorded at Weir’s home studio, it also features an appearance from Weir family retriever Jackson (see the tour advertising design and notice who’s driving the Cadillac!).
Or, as the inimitable Weir said of him, “Keller Williams is more fun than a frog in a glass of milk.” Keller seems to like the idea, too: “I love this tour because I get to get in for free.”
That positive vibe will be felt across the country this summer.
July 07 Chastain Park Amphitheatre, Atlanta GA
July 09 Summerstage, Central Park, New York City NY
July 10 Bank of America Pavilion, Boston MA
July 11 Lincoln Park, Lincoln RI
July13 All Good Festival, Marvin’s Mountaintop WV
July 14 Charlottesville Pavilion, Charlottesville VA
July 16 Tower City Amphitheater, Cleveland OH
July 17 Promowest Pavilion, Columbus OH
July 19 Aragon Ballroom, Chicago IL
July 20 10,000 Lakes Festival, Detroit Lakes MN
July 21 Stir Cove at Harrah’s Casino, Council Bluffs IA
July 24 Red Rocks Amphitheatre, Morrison CO
July 25 Paolo Soleri Amphitheatre, Santa Fe NM
July 27 Humphrey’s Concerts by the Bay, San Diego CA
July 28 Greek Theatre, Los Angeles CA
More dates to be announced. Plese visit www.kellerwilliams.net
Detroit Lakes, MN - March 29, 2007 – The fifth annual 10,000 Lakes Festival (10KLF) held July 18 – 21 at the Soo Pass Ranch in Detroit Lakes, Minn. is quickly becoming the summer’s must attend live music and camping event. Adding artists to its growing lineup, 10KLF announces the confirmation of these groups:
The Tragically Hip
Zappa Plays Zappa
The Lee Boys
Big Organ Trio
That 1 Guy
Continuing the high standards of musical excellence that festivarians expect, this year’s 10,000 Lakes Festival lineup already features Bob Weir & RatDog, Trey Anastasio, The Disco Biscuits, Umphrey's McGee, moe., Keller Williams, Gov't Mule, Little Feat, The Derek Trucks Band, New Riders of the Purple Sage, Ivan Neville's Dumpstaphunk, Everyone Orchestra, Trampled By Turtles, Pnuma Trio, God Johnson, GypsyFoot, Bump, Mr. Blotto, WookieFoot, The Burnin' Smyrnans, The Heavy Pets, and Moses Mayes.
Additional acts recently confirmed in this round include Kinetix, Stealin' Strings, Down Lo, White Iron Band, Hobo Nephews, The Smokin' Bandits, Unity, Madahoochi, and The Lighterside of Being.
Over the past four summers 10KLF has grown into the Midwest’s premier festival destination through its mix of subdued natural beauty and world class live music. As the most recent addition to the lineup, The Tragically Hip has grown into one of Canada’s most beloved bands over the past two decades by mixing traditional and roots rock, releasing eleven albums and offering intimate connections with its audience.
Zappa Plays Zappa is Dweezil Zappa’s live tribute to the prolific and ‘legendarily intricate’ music of his father, Frank Zappa, with the moniker ‘Accept No Substitutes.’ Performing at the 10,000 Lakes Festival as the group’s only American summer festival appearance, Dweezil Zappa is joined by a hand-picked crew of focused musicians as well as legendary Zappa band alum, Napoleon Murphy Brock, who all perform Frank’s timeless music meticulously.
“I would love to expose multiple younger generations to Frank’s music,” Dweezil says. “There will always be people looking for an alternative form of musical entertainment and I happen to feel that Frank’s music is certainly worth a listen. I really think that younger audiences would be fascinated by it because it’s so different than anything they’re exposed to currently.”
Taking a green approach to powering the festival through a partnership with CLIF Bar and NativeEnergy, the 10,000 Lakes Festival now allows patrons to offset the CO2 emissions of their automobile or airline travel up to the festival by purchasing ‘Cool Tags’ at the online ticket check out. Each Cool Tag invests $2 in NativeEnergy’s WindBuilders program, helping the Rosebud Sioux Tribe build a wind farm on their reservation in South Dakota. Wind farms deliver clean, renewable energy to the grid without releasing CO2 into the air, thereby displacing energy that comes from polluting facilities.
The 10KLF Cosmic Break Tour continues its continental search in March and April for talented independent and unsigned artists to perform at this year’s event. Through a series of regional showcases, five bands square off and the group with the most audience votes receives a festival gig. Bands outside of the Cosmic Break’s ten tour stops may register for a chance to earn a performance slot in the ‘Online Voting Booth’. Cosmic Break Tour and Online Voting Booth info is available at www.10KLF.com
Festival tickets, campground reservations and event details are available online at www.10KLF.com
Rock & roll needs fresh blood to thrive, and it's rarely had a more exuberant, beautifully crafted infusion than Bobby Lee Rodgers & The CodeTalkers, a fiery trio that taps into the primal mojo of '50s pioneers embellished with the captivating twists & turns of hard electric blues, Muscle Shoals soul, fleet fingered acoustic picking, and huge scale epic rock. Founded in 1999, they make a joyous, dizzyingly engaged roar anchored to truly lethal musicianship.
Bobby Lee Rodgers & The CodeTalkers hit the road this spring on a run of shows dubbed the “Galaxy Girl Tour.” The band’s recently recorded new single, “Galaxy Girl,” will be included in the band’s next studio release, slated to hit streets in Fall 2007. In the meantime, look for the song to be available on iTunes, and the video to be on www.grouper.com, www.bliptv.com and www.youtube.com this spring.
The current list of Bobby Lee Rodgers & The CodeTalkers tour dates is as follows:
April 6 Crossroads Huntsville AL
April 7 Locos Savannah GA
April 11 The Nick Birmingham AL
April 12 Martin's Jackson MS
April 13 Rockyard Ft. Worth TX
April 14 Stubbs Indoors Austin TX STS9 after party
April 18 Fox Theater Boulder CO
April 19 Bluebird Denver CO
April 20 Black Sheep Colorado Springs CO
April 26 Winston Beach Club San Diego CA
April 27 Fais Do Do Los Angeles CA
April 28 12 Galaxies San Francisco CA
April 30 Humbrews Arcata CA
May 1 WOW Hall Eugene OR
May 2 Goodfoot Lounge Portland OR
May 4 Flanagan's Whitefish MT
May 5 The Loft Missoula MT
June 10 Indiefest Pagosa Springs CO
July 28 Dogstock Music Festival Melvem KS
August 4 Jerry Bash Terra Alta WV
August 26 Ashefest Asheville NC
September 21 Mulberry Mountain Harvest Music Festival Ozark AK
More dates to be announced.
Bobby Lee Rodgers & The CodeTalkers’ muscular, engaging sound is in full bloom on their latest album, Now, released in summer 2006. Now’s 12 tracks, all original songs written by frontman Bobby Lee Rodgers, run a wild gamut, from the chugging blues of “Saved By The Same Thing” to the Zappa-like “Victor The Snakeman.” There is incredible balance and nuance to Now that draws deeply from the past but also speaks to a bright future. Loud & soft, direct & elusive, the record flows in an organic, unforced manner that’s positively engaging. It’s no longer a secret – the music of Bobby Lee will be heard.
Rodgers is aided & abetted by bassist Ted Pecchio and drummer Tyler Greenwell. The trio has recently been hunkering down in the studio, working on their follow-up to Now. But they’ve also found the time to headline gigs from coast to coast. Their mountain of positive press includes a recent interview with Rodgers on NPR's “Morning Edition."
The band was recently signed to Japanese record label Grey Dog Records. Now will be released in Japan on April 25, and will feature three new tracks and new artwork.
Denver, CO – March 16, 2007 -- Colorado-based Leftover Salmon announces it will return to the stage later this year. Confirmed by a statement today from band manager John Joy the return will mark the end to the band’s 27-month hiatus.
Following the band’s last live performance on New Year’s Eve 2004 in Boulder, audiences nationwide will once again hear the trademark polyethnic-cajun-slamgrass sound that propelled the group from its humble Rocky Mountain beginnings to international critical acclaim.
The returning lineup for Leftover Salmon features Vince Herman (acoustic guitar, vocals), Drew Emmitt (mandolin, guitar, vocals), Jeff Sipe (drums), Greg Garrison (bass, vocals), Bill McKay (keyboards, vocals), and Noam Pikelny (banjo).
The confirmed performances have the band making festival appearances on opposite coasts including the High Sierra Music Festival in Northern California and the All Good Music Festival in West Virginia’s hills.
Confirmed 2007 Performances:
High Sierra Music Festival - Quincy, CA
2 performances: Saturday, July 7 and Sunday, July 8
All Good Music Festival - Masontown, WV
Sunday, July 15
Leftover Salmon was formed by accident in 1989, when a local band, the Salmon Heads, asked members of the Left Hand String Band to fill some missing spots in its lineup. The synergy worked and the resulting quintet went on to pioneer its own genre.
After the independent release of Bridges to Bert in 1993 and the 1995 live follow-up Ask The Fish, Leftover Salmon gained a spot on the H.O.R.D.E. festival tour and a contract with Hollywood Records. Their Hollywood debut and second studio album, Euphoria, continued to define their eclectic sound and introduced many songs that would become classics for the band.
Other releases include The Nashville Sessions (1999) featuring scores of famous Nashville artists and session musicians as collaborators; Live (2002) the first recording with the new rhythm section, O Cracker, Where Art Thou? (2003) featuring Cracker members David Lowery and Johnny Hickman with LS as the backing band, and Leftover Salmon (2004) first studio record since the loss of founding member, banjoist Mark Vann.
Each of the band’s releases cements its contemporary sound with the solid genre-bending fusion of newgrass, folk and blues. Through the course of the initial 15 years of Leftover Salmon has performed music with such contemporaries as Sam Bush, Bela Fleck, David Grisman, Jerry Douglas, Del McCoury, Peter Rowan, Pete Wernick, Col. Bruce Hampton, Oteil Burbridge, Bill Payne, Darol Anger, Mike Marshall, Pete Sears, Todd Park Mohr, Tony Furtado, Theresa Andersson, along with members of the The String Cheese Incident, Widespread Panic, Yonder Mountain String Band and dozens of additional artists.
The band continues to break new ground with its highly energetic live performances and initiate new fans with each show.