(Artwork care of Karen Ramsay (www.karenramsay.com), profile photo care of brianlackeyphotography.com)

Monday, January 12, 2009

CD Review - Keller Williams with Moseley, Droll and Sipe, Live

I got this back in early December when I saw Keller perform solo at the Aggie Theater here in Fort Collins. I'm not going to write all that up - it's not as fresh for me, though it was a great show. I really like Keller, especially live. Watching him use loops to build songs like architecture is truely entertaining. Anyway, I was psyched to buy another Keller Williams CD. So, I saw this disc: it's new and live and it's a double CD with a DVD. All this and affordable, too. So, I got it but I didn't check it out until the next day.

This review is colored in part by expectations. I think we all bring expectations to any art we approach. Having those expectations twisted can be one of the sweetest things about art. But you have to be willing to take that ride. In the dark of the club, I didn't really look that closely at the CD. Later, I was surprised to find that this was a band effort, with Keith Mosely (from String Cheese Incident), Gibb Droll, and Jeff Sipe (Aquarium Rescue Unit). Oh. So not so much looping and more of a jam band kind of sound. To be quite honest, I was a little disappointed. After a couple of listens, though, I feel better about it.

The first track, Same Ole, starts with a classic Keller Williams sound, but after a little vamping, it picks up a big Jerry Garcia feel. In large part, that's how the album comes across. This really is a groove-fest jam band that mostly uses Keller's songs as a starting point. Lots of Dead/Phishy/String Cheesy fun. Speaking of which, there is a String Cheese song in the set, a tasty arrangement of Camper Van Beethoven's Still Wishing to Course, and a few of Gibb Droll's songs. For me, my favorite tracks include You Are What You Eat, which has a nice evolutionary groove, melding from one sort of song into another and back. Still Wishing is quite nice and The Juggler is one of my favorite Keller songs and this time it slides into Dancing in the Street and Groove is in the Heart.

Ok, so I got my head in the right space and I have to say that I do like the CDs. They're in rotation on my iPod and I listened to them again this last weekend when I was brewing. What about the DVD? Well, the music is great. 9 more tracks and some great music (different than the CDs), There are more "cover" moments (Grateful Dead, The Guess Who, Aretha Franklin, Jimi Hendrix), which are pretty entertaining. But the video sucks. If you're going to have a live video of a jam band, I want to see them jamming. There is some of that, but most of the time, the camera cuts to spacy video "visualization" stuff. I get it that this is more or less the same stuff that's on the stage screen, but it was less of a live band experience than a Winamp experience. I'll be ripping the audio track to listen to but I probably won't watch the DVD again.

The pairing here calls for something a little more interesting...I'll say my homebrewed Saffron Cumin mead (Cumino Oro) on a sunny Saturday afternoon. With a little bit of incense in the air;-)

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