Tag Archives: More than a little

Keller Williams with More Than A Little, It’s Funk

DSCN1498edited Keller Williams has released a new album, recorded live over several nights and billed as Keller Williams with More Than a Little (MTAL). Sticking with his monosyllabic motif, the album is called Funk. Honest Tune had a chance to chat with Keller about this album and the band behind it. He was home in Virginia, on a rare day off, and the excitement about the new project was evident in his voice.


In the past, when Keller has created a band, it has consisted of players that Keller fans already knew well. Not this time. Keller picked up a band of local Virginia players who spend more time playing churches than bars. The album is called Funk, but it is full of gospel, soul, disco, and R&B elements. It consists of ten songs, six of them covers, ranging from Rick James to the Grateful Dead, from Talking Heads to Flight of the Conchords.


More Than a Little consists of Keller on vocals and electric guitar, EJ Shaw on bass, Gerard Johnson on keys, Toby Fairchild on drums, and vocals from Tonya Lazenby Jackson and Sugah Davis.


When speaking about the origins of MTAL, Keller expressed a deep sense of awe. “I think it’s a natural progression, going into deeper, soulful R&B, gospel type of funk. I mean this is not your ordinary group of guys trying to play funk music. These folks have allowed me into their world, man. I think these folks feel the funk and they understand the soulful R&B formula that has been foreign to me until now. Teaching them these songs and having them teach them back to me, it’s been a real, super inspiring experience and it continues to be.”


The name of the band is also the name of one of the originals on the album. Keller says this name came from the feelings he got the first time he played with this group. He was more than a little happy, more than a little inspired. And of course, the group is “more than a little funky.”


Keller was connected with this group of musicians through Fairchild, who played drums as a part of The Added Bonus, one of Keller’s New Year’s Eve run bands from the past couple of years. While his sense of amazement came through for the entire band, it was particularly prevalent when speaking about the awesome powers of Johnson. “If you ever listen to an African-American sermon – you know with the people cheering them on and there’s organ in the background – that’s Gerard. His ears are constantly open, he’s following everything. He’s an auditory genius.”



 Keller’s brand is built on his one-of-a-kind, one-man looping show. When he is alone, he can go anywhere on a moment’s notice. He can change songs, switch tempos, drop out and start over; there are no rules. That is a special kind of freedom. But a band brings with it many advantages as well. Keller reflected on that freedom versus those constraints that playing with a band provides:

 “Oh my god. That’s the thing with these people. I can’t say enough how they allow me to be in their world, you know? There’s a certain kind of freedom playing solo where you can go anywhere at any time and that’s not always the case with a band. Except for this band. This band is so used to following different energies, whether it be a preacher or some kind of R&B thing. In R&B, at any time, the lead singer can say ‘break it down’ and then go into some kind of story. You know, it’s like, it’s almost as free as playing solo, playing with these folks, because they’re so in tune with what I’m doing, they’ll follow me anywhere and slip right in as if we rehearsed. There’s a certain element of improv that I didn’t expect going into this project, you know, is really unbelievable.”



When asked if his band with their gospel background have started calling him Reverend, Keller deadpans, “They call me a lot of things,” but Reverend is not one of them. But that does seem to be the role that he is playing in this band. He is the man in front, leading his people through their rites while his band follows him seamlessly from place to place. Close your eyes and you can almost see Keller running back and forth on stage, wireless mic strapped on, serving as the leader of less an audience than a congregation.


The album opens with a cover of the Flight of the Conchords, “I Told You I Was Freaky.”  Keller admits that the band was not DSCN1499editedfamiliar with that song or anything the Flight of ther Conchords has done.  In fact, he still doesn’t think they have ever heard the original. But they certainly bring their own unique approach to the song and it brings out a funk sensibility to the song that is certainly less prevalent in the original. Keller also admits the band had never played Grateful Dead songs before; this too was new to them. But you would never know it listening to their funked-up version of “West L.A. Fade Away.”


One of the most underrated, but most powerful parts of Keller’s new band his the strength of singers, Tonya Lazenby and Sugah Davis.  Since this band first started, Keller says his upfront singers have been “getting some love from other bands too and that’s really exciting.” And he likes to make clear that he does not see Lazenby and Davis as background singers, rather as upfront singers.  He feels their contributions and what they add to each song makes them more than just simple back-up singers. He compares what they do to the deep, powerful harmonies he heard in later day versions of the Jerry Garcia Band by vocalists Jaclyn Branch and Gloria Jones.


The band moves effortlessly from Talking Heads “Once in a Lifetime,” to Donna Summer’s “I Feel Love” to Rick James’ “Mary Jane.” The latter is the only track on the album on which Keller is not singing lead, showcasing his upfront singers. These songs all come from very disparate traditions, but Keller and MTAL make them all work within one solid sound. The album closes with a mash-up entitled “Samson’s Wine,” which moves back and forth between “Wine,” by Danny Barnes and “Samson and Delilah.”  It’s a song that fits perfectly with the gospel-flavored tinge of the album. While most people associate “Samson and Delilah” with The Grateful Dead, Bob Weir initially learned the song from the Reverend Gary Davis (though Davis was not an actual Reverend he was very spiritual).


When asked what music he has been listening to lately Keller said he has been very excited about a band called Breastfist, that he says is, “a mix of Ween meets, super-funk, it’s like Ween, Zappa but with a real strong sense of groove and funk.”  He has been particular enamored with their song “Talk to the Fist.”  Given Keller’s always wandering musical-muse perhaps one day in the near future or even at his up-coming always raging New Year’s Eve bash you can hear Keller include the song his set and sing, “Momma’s got nothing but love/she’ll fuck you up if push comes to shove.”


Follow Josh Klemons  on Twitter @jlemonsk

Keller Williams Announces “What the FUNK Tour”, New Album Release and More

DSCN1510editedKeller Williams recently announced a massive winter tour in support of his new release with his latest musical muse, a 6-piece funk band dubbed ‘More Than A Little’. The “What The FUNK Tour” takes Keller and this cast of hard-hitting funk players through major markets throughout the Midwest and West in early 2014.   Funk the new album by Keller Williams with More Than A Little will be released on November 12th.


The remainder of the 2013 season finds Keller performing solo and in a variety of creative collaborations. Among them, a pair of rare “Keller & His Compadres” shows on December 20-21 in Keystone, Colorado featuring solo looping sets plus pairings with Michael Travis and Michael Kang (The String Cheese Incident) on the 20th and Drew Emmitt and Vince Herman (Leftover Salmon) on the 21st. Tickets and details available at www.kellerwilliams.net.


Keller will curate and perform at The Rex Foundation’s Annual Benefit – this year dubbed “Nightfall of Diamonds”- at The Fillmore in San Francisco, CA on December 7th. For this intimate evening of music Keller will play solo and with Tim & Nicki Bluhm, and will also perform a set with his trio Grateful Grass – featuring long time musical friends Jeff Austin (Yonder Mountain String Band) and Keith Moseley (The String Cheese Incident). All proceeds from this night celebrating the legacy of the Grateful Dead will go to The Rex Foundation.


On December 26, Keller Williams returns to his hometown of Fredericksburg, VA for his highly anticipated holiday tradition – the 13th annual SPCA Holiday Benefit concert. This year, the festivity moves to downtown Fredericksburg’s intimate Old Silk Mill. Keller will perform an always-favorite solo looping set before being joined for second set – with Keller on bass – by Steve Kimock on guitar and Kimock’s son John Morgan on drums. 100% of the profits from the annual holiday concert will go to support the local branch of the SPCA.


To wrap up the year, Keller has announced plans for his always-raging New Year’s Eve bash. The 2013 NYE Run kicks off Friday, December 27th at Mr. Smalls Theater in Millvale, PA, then hits Beachland Ballroom in Cleveland, OH on December 29th, and culminates at Rams Head Live! in Baltimore, MD on the 31st. The New Year’s Eve show will see 3 sets of music from favorite Keller collaborations Keller & The Keels, Keller Williams Solo, and Keller Williams with More Than A Little. Tickets and NYE Hotel Travel packages are currently on sale at www.kellerwilliams.net.


Fans still have time to enter the Funk pre-sale contest. Those who pre-order the album by November 11th through Keller’s online merch store will automatically be entered twice into the “Tear the Roof off the Funker” Contest – a chance to win an all expense paid trip for two to see Keller Williams with More Than A Little in New Orleans during the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival.  Those who purchase Funk after its release, but before January 1, 2014, will earn one entry to the contest. For the official contest rules and other pertinent info, click here.


Keller Williams tour dates:


2013 Fall Tour
November 1 Metropolitan Morgantown VA
November 2 V-Club Huntington WV
November 3 Mountain Stage at the Culture Center Theatre Charleston WV Keller Williams with The Travelin’ McCourys
November 7 Constellation Room Santa Ana CA
November 8 El Rey Theatre Los Angeles CA
November 9 Belly Up Tavern Solana Beach CA
November 14 The Handlebar Greenville SC
November 15 Georgia Theatre Athens GA Keller Williams with More Than A Little
November 16 Orange Peel Asheville NC
November 20 Chateau Rive Spokane WA
November 21 Great Northern Whitefish MT
November 22 Top Hat Lounge Missoula MT
November 23 Filling Station Bozeman MT
December 5 Arcata Theatre Arcata CA
December 6 The Catalyst Santa Cruz CA with The Mother Hips
December 7 Fillmore Rex Benefit San Francisco CA Grateful Grass with Michael Kang, Keller with Nikki & Tim Bluhm
December 11 – December 15 Strings & Sol – Now Sapphire Resort Puerto Morelos, Quintana Roo  Keller Williams with The Travelin’ McCourys
December 20 – Saturday, December 21 Warren Station Center for the Arts Keystone CO “Keller Williams & His Compadres” Featuring Michael Travis and Michael Kang and Drew Emmitt and Vince Herman


New Year’s Run
December 26 13th Annual SPCA Benefit @ Old Silk Mill Fredricksburg, VA Keller & The  Kimocks
December 27 Mr. Smalls Theatre Millvale PA Keller Williams with More Than A Little
December 28 Beachland Ballroom & Tavern Cleveland OH Keller Williams with More Than A Little
December 31 Ram’s Head Live  Baltimore MD Keller & The Keels, Keller Williams Solo, Keller Williams with More Than A Little
January 4 – Monday, January 6 Jam Cruise 12 Miami FL Keller Williams & The Kimocks
January 9 Pickel Barrel Killington, VT
January 10 Tupelo Music Hall Londonberry, VT Keller Williams with More Than A Little
January 11 Stage One Fairfield, CT
January 12 BB Kings New York, NY Keller Williams with The Travelin’ McCourys


What the FUNK 2014 Tour
January 16 Madison Theater Covington KY Keller Williams with More Than A Little
January 17 Park West Chicago IL Keller Williams with More Than A Little
January 18 Majestic Theatre Madison, WI Keller Williams with More Than A Little
January 19 The Cabooze Minneapolis MN Keller Williams with More Than A Little
January 21 The Englert Theatre Iowa City IA Keller Williams with More Than A Little
January 22 DG’S Tap House Ames IA Keller Williams with More Than a Little
January 23 Canopy Club Urbana IL Keller Williams with More Than A Little
January 24 The Vogue Indianapolis IN Keller Williams with More Than a Little
January 25 Newport Music Hall Columbus OH Keller Williams with More Than A Little
January 26 FED Live Harrisburg, PA Keller Williams with More Than A Little
February 5 Animas City Theatre Durango, CO
February 6 Vilar Center for the Arts Beaver Creek, CO
February 7 Park City Live Park City UT
February 8 Pink Garter Theater Jackson Hole WY
February 20 Belly Up Aspen Aspen CO Keller Williams with More Than A Little
February 21 The Fillmore Denver, CO Keller Williams with More Than A Little, JJ Grey and Mofro, and Nicki Bluhm & the Gramblers
February 22 The Gryphon Theatre Laramie CO Keller Williams with More Than A Little
February 23 Bourbon Theatre Lincoln, NE Keller Williams with More Than A Little with John Wayne & The Pain
February 24 The District Sioux Falls SD Keller Williams with More Than A Little
With John Wayne & The Pain
February 25 Abode Wichita KS Keller Williams with More Than A Little
February 26 The Bottleneck Lawrence KS Keller Williams with More Than A Little
February 27 Cain’s Ballroom Tulsa OK Keller Williams with More Than A Little
February 28 Granada Theater Dallas TX Keller Williams with More Than A Little
March 1 Antone’s Austin TX Keller Williams with More Than A Little
March 2 Sam’s Burger Joint San Antonio TX Keller Williams with More Than A Little
March 4 Fitzgerald’s Houston TX Keller Williams With More Than A Little
March 5 Duling Hall Jackson MS Keller Williams with More Than A Little
March 6 George’s Majestic Lounge Fayetteville AR Keller Williams with More Than A Little
March 7 The Pageant St. Louis MO Keller Williams with More Than A Little
March 8 Revolution Music Room Little Rock AR Keller Williams with More Than A Little
March 20 The Haunt Ithaca, NY
March 21 State Theatre State College, PA
March 22 Chunk Opera Jim Thorpe, PA

Additional dates to be confirmed.