Keller Williams is a man of many tricks and talents, known for his numerous touring bands and his use of live looping in his solo performances. This Saturday he stopped at The Orange Peel in Asheville, North Carolina with his most recent touring group Keller Williams KWahtro, featuring Rodney Holmes, Gibb Droll, and Danton Boller. The band embodied Keller’s customary formula; performing bluegrass, funk, rock, reggae, and more in a spectacular medley of sound. We’ve compiled highlights of the night below.
“Best Feeling” to begin the show
Fans of Keller Williams and The String Cheese Incident are intimately familiar with “Best Feeling,” a staple of both musical institutions. Having recorded this track with SCI in 1999, it has seen a lot of use in the touring circuit. As soon as the first notes started to play on Saturday, this song drew everyone in from the bar and the smoking patio to sing along.
Grateful Dead’s “Bird Song”>”Birds of a Feather” by Phish
Known for masterfully executing covers in a way that makes them his own, Williams and KWahtro performed The Dead’s “Bird Song” beautifully. Droll played a fantastic solo, channeling Jerry Garcia on his acoustic guitar while Keller used effects pedals to shift his guitar into a flute. The pairing of the two blended into a transcendent moment. During their instrumental jam the band shifted gears into “Birds of a Feather.” Keller began by using his pedals to manipulate and loop his voice during the first verse, then began to increase the intensity as he dropped into the chorus.
Dark and playful “Freaker by the Speaker”
Channeling a darker side, Keller’s voice effects added a deep and ominous tone to this playful tune. The band still followed the song’s normal upbeat tone with ample amounts of wah pedal while Boller’s stand up bass added a unique jazz element to the song. Using his effects to transform his guitar into a violin, Keller ended the song on an orchestral note.
Rodney Holmes’ 5-minute drum solo
The band left the stage as Keller Williams introduced Grammy winning artist Rodney Holmes, after finishing “Ripped Six Pack.” Having worked with artists like Santana, Steve Kimock, Maceo Parker and more, Holmes packs the punch of a large band behind his modest drum kit. Looking around the room, it was clear the audience was in awe during his entire five and a half minute drum solo.
“Scarlet Begonias”>”Butt Sweat”>”Scarlet Begonias” with Zach Deputy
The encore featured opener Zach Deputy for a “Scarlet Begonias” sandwiched in between a comedic “Butt Sweat.” Begonias, a fan favorite, was met with erupting cheers as the opening chords were played. As the band transitioned songs, Deputy was brought on stage when Keller asked, “You know who else is in the heart of gold band?” Deputy began to periodically sing “Butt Sweat” while Keller replied, “Don’t go there Zach, don’t go there.” After a short vocal jam between Keller and Zach, the band transitioned back into Begonias to end the show.
Written by Tom Cunningham