There is one absolute rule in Keller Williams’ world: There are no rules.
Using the Grateful Dead’s improbable diversity as a jumping-off point, Williams has created an astonishingly broad catalog over the past two decades, tossing every conceivable genre spice in his musical gumbo. As Williams stirs the pot, almost anything is likely to bubble to the surface in varying degrees and combinations. And no matter how many ingredients are incorporated into the recipe — Folk, Bluegrass, Pop, Prog, Jazz, Dance, Alternative Rock, Blues — Williams’ musical mastery assures a unique and delicious dish every time.
Over the years, Williams has threaded his artistic vision through a variety of projects (Keller & the Keels, Yonder Mountain String Band, String Cheese Incident), but he’s most noted for his solo brilliance, particularly in the live arena, where delay units and looping technology allow him to be an impossibly tight one-man-band.
In a departure from his solo identity, Williams’ latest musical foray finds him ass-deep in the rhythmic bog known as Funk, which also happens to be the title of his latest album with his newly minted Jazz/Soul/Funk band, More Than a Little (MTAL).
On Funk, vocalist/guitarist Williams and MTAL (bassist EJ Shaw, keyboardist Gerard Johnson, drummer Toby Fairchild, backup vocalists Tonya Lazenby Jackson and Sugah Davis) serve up a roiling set of Jazz-tinged R&B laced with layers of sweet, tasty Jam. Like a perfect gene splice of the Clarke/Duke Project and Phish, Williams and MTAL roar and wriggle through a quartet of new Williams compositions and a handful of wonderfully integrated covers — the group’s take on Talking Heads’ “Once in a Lifetime” is a brilliant blend of freewheeling Funk and Jazz precision.
Funk was recorded at a trio of shows in Virginia and North Carolina, and live is clearly the best way to experience Williams and More Than a Little’s rubbery and infectious presentation.
KELLER WILLIAMS and MORE THAN A LITTLE play Covington's Madison Theater on Thursday, Jan. 16. Click here for ticket info and more details.