Keller Williams trippy tunes to invade Cosmic Charlie’s


Keller Williams performs at FloydFest on July 31, 2016. 

By Matt Wickstrom

The psychedelic looping of “one man jam band” Keller Williams returns to the bluegrass this Friday night for a near sold-out show at Cosmic Charlie’s

Friday’s performance marks Williams’ first Kentucky appearance since a show on July 22 in nearby Harrodsburg for the inaugural Be Kind Gathering at Terrapin Hill Farm.

Aside from his solo persona, Williams has also curated many other projects including Keller and the Keels with esteemed flatpicking guitarist Larry Keel and his wife Jenny; a bluegrass tribute to the Grateful Dead dubbed Grateful Grass, and an explosion of funk and soul with More than a Little.

“I can’t live without music, and I don’t just mean in terms of putting food on the table and paying the bills,” said Williams. “If someone else isn’t playing I’m going to start singing or tapping on a sign or whatever is close by.”

Williams’ passion for music has led to countless collaborations and sit-ins over his career, including with Bob Weir and Ratdog, String Cheese Incident, Yonder Mountain String Band and Umphrey’s McGee. According to Williams he’d love to have had a chance to go back in time to collaborate with the likes of Jerry Garcia, Elvis Presley and Ray Charles. Williams also expressed interest in delving into the EDM scene, naming Bassnectar and Pretty Lights on the short list of artists he’d like to work with.

Aside from his various projects, Williams does his best to ensure each show is different from the last by looking at recent set lists along with those from past shows in cities he’s traveling to to configure a unique show with little to no overlap in material. Williams also occasionally reaches out to fans on social media for song requests.

In the early 1990s when Williams’ career was just getting started he’d perform with no set list, but after a time he noticed he’d fallen into a stagnant routine of only playing what he was most comfortable with. The more of a following Williams garnered, the more he realized he needed to make a change.

“Once people start coming to hear you, you can’t keep playing the same songs all the time,” said Williams. “Once I started going to see the Grateful Dead and Phish they were doing two unique sets night-to-night, I really latched on to that. I used to be the snobby hippie at shows who’d get mad when the same song got played within a couple nights of one another.”

Williams’ is currently eyeing the release 23rd album Sync with his newest project KWahtro, a four-piece outfit featuring elements of disco, jazz, and reggae that includes Rodney Holmes on drums, Danton Boller on bass and Gibb Droll on acoustic guitar. 

According to Williams, recording for Sync finished up in late August, with everything being sent off to get mixed and mastered this week. Williams hopes to have copies of the record available at his upcoming shows with KWahtro beginning in late October, with an official release date to be determined.

“There is some deepness in these lyrics compared to past records,” said Williams. “I’m really excited about how sonically this record is coming out and how even though all four parts were recorded separately in different parts of the country and at different times, it sounds like we’re playing together in the same room at the same time.”

Doors open at 8 p.m. Friday at Cosmic Charlie’s with Williams taking the stage at 9 p.m.. Tickets are close to selling out, and are available for presale on Ticketfly for $18 or for $20 at the door.