Keller Williams performs Friday night during a Ski Jam concert at the Steamboat Music Tent in the Knoll Parking Lot.

Photo by Matt Stensland

Keller Williams performs Friday night during a Ski Jam concert at the Steamboat Music Tent in the Knoll Parking Lot.

Concert review: Keller Williams gives quirky concert

Ski Jam show featured impressive playing, strange stage presence

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Keller Williams performs Friday night during a Ski Jam concert at the Steamboat Music Tent in the Knoll Parking Lot.

— It’s hard to tell if Keller Williams is joking.

During his 90-minute first set at The Steamboat Music Tent for the Ski Jam music festival Friday night, Williams didn’t speak to the audience. He sang to them — giving an account of his day on the mountain, telling them his plans for the evening, letting them know he wouldn’t be offended if anyone decided to leave early.

It was, like many of Williams’ songs, weird. It also was nearly impossible to stop watching.

That’s because Williams is a vastly talented musician and, despite his quirks, is an engaging performer. His one-man jam band act features acoustic guitar, bass, electric guitar tuned to various sound effects, a drum machine, a mixer, a keyboard and other toys. The performance constantly is shifting, with almost imperceptible changes from one song to the next.

One minute Williams is encouraging the audience to do a goofy snow dance in a voice that’s somewhere between Paul Simon and insanity, and the next he’s performing a ballad about the perks and pitfalls of his fame.

He might be making it up as he goes, and he might not. It doesn’t really matter — as he sings about aliens, drugs or snowboarding, Williams is layering one harmonically complex line over another, and tinkering with beats to keep the audience moving.

In this context, Williams is more a stage performer than he is a songwriter, at one point opting for a hilariously frantic cover of Amy Winehouse’s “Rehab” instead of a fully structured original song — though some fully structured, well-written songs did make their way into Friday’s show.

Originally from Virginia, Williams lived and played music in Steamboat Springs for about two years in the mid- to late ’90s. He made a few references Friday to his time here and his positive feeling for the place. But his strongest interactions with the audience were in head motions, facial expressions and silly dances, which for a Friday night festival concert, seems like one of the better ways to go.

The Molly Ringwalds

There are no shortcuts in The Molly Ringwalds’ approach to playing ’80s songs. At the band’s Ski Jam show Saturday night, four musicians in all-out ’80s costumes traded lead vocals on hits by Journey, Madonna, AC/DC and Michael Jackson.

Highlights included a faithful music video reliving the learn-to-dance montage from “Footloose”; a rather large man going by “Lord Phillip Wang” hitting high octaves as Madonna; and synthesizer player and singer “Dickie English” landing a perfect imitation of Debbie Harry on “Call Me.”

Comments

rexrox77 4 years, 2 months ago

Obviously Ms. Hair has never attended a Grateful Dead or any kind of related concert in her life if she is so narrow-minded as to call Keller Williams "weird"! She has no idea that Keller is now a member of the extended Grateful Dead family and a good friend of Bob Weir, (even though he is 25 years younger), or how proud we 'boat people are of him, especially those of us who know and love him after he lived here from 1996 to 1998. He is all over Youtube.com, playing at Red Rocks and elsewhere with Bobby, Ratdog and even Donna Jean, playing along with classic Dead tunes, always in key and never missing a beat! He is a musician in a league by himself, there is really no comparison.

Keller Williams was a client of mine back then, (hint - I kept him on the road), and I was backstage with him before his recent show and the one here in 2005. We talked about new things and old times, but it is very hard for me to talk to Keller now, I always choke up with great pride and admiration for him. I remember when he met his beautiful blonde wife-to-be Emily, they now have 2 kids. He is a man of immense good karma and integrity, (and he is so good-natured), now legendary in Steamboat.

Speaking of legendary integrity, he did a gig here in 2001 at the Steamboat Tavern, and the next day, after he drove his RV half way to Kremmling, he realized that the Steamboat Tavern owner had over-paid him by a few hundred dollars. He turned around and drove back to refund the money, and the Steamboat Tavern owner was floored!, he said, "If Keller had not admitted to it, I never would have known!". Many people would have either mailed the money back or just kept it, but not Keller, he didn't want any bad karma to follow him, not even for a few hours. Keller is one of the best people I have ever known, he sets a great example for everybody.

At least Ms. Hair's review is mostly positive, but I think if you don't really understand something, don't critisize it!

This is from all of Keller's local friends and fans.

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