Keller Williams, Buffalo, February 22nd, The Tralf Music Hall

On Friday, February 22nd, The Tralf Music Hall in Buffalo played host to multi-talented singer/songwriter/guitarist Keller Williams. Keller Williams is often described as a ‘one-man jam-band’ due to his frequent use of live phrase looping while incorporating multiple instruments. His stage shows are built around Keller singing his compositions and choice covers while accompanying himself with an acoustic guitar connected to a Gibson Echoplex delay system that allows him to simulate a full band. His music combines elements of bluegrass, folk, alternative rock, reggae, electronica/dance, jazz, funk, and other assorted genres.

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This show Sold-out and for those who waited to the last minute were left out in the cold. The Tralf filled to capacity early and shortly before Keller appeared on stage the crowd was shoulder-to-shoulder. Williams came strolling onto the stage gently strumming his guitar while spinning in slow circles. Keller Williams immediately drew the crowd in with the warm register of his tenor voice. His voice combined with his skilled guitar talents were enough to entrance and enthrall everyone in the building immediately. He seamlessly eased from mellow to upbeat and the crowd was right there with him every step of the way. Somehow he encapsulated the best elements of every type of music he’s known to blend in a perfectly clean and emboldened fashion.

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Keller makes the stage his own musical playground, dancing barefoot as he moves from one instrument to another. The diverse crowd present was willing to let Keller take them on any ride of his choosing. The performance was constantly shifting, with almost imperceptible changes from one song to the next. Keller’s improvisational adventure drew in the audience for nearly two and a half hours of music. Williams switches easily between instruments, electronic devices and microphone. It’s almost like watching a well-practiced dance production – seamlessly and comfortably moving between components to create a dynamic and propelling show.

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Though Williams’ keeps things interesting, his songs are full of hilarious puns and commentary his show relies almost entirely on pure skill. It was nearly impossible to stop watching this vastly talented musician perform, for Keller Williams it is all about the music. When performing, he pays close attention to the details which adds to the impressive nature of his music. With each new or unique instrument, loop or vocal, Williams adds dimension and largess to his sound. If you didn’t know any better walking into a Keller Williams show, it would sound as if there’s an entire band on the stage. He has developed his own distinctive compositional and performing style. His approach of wanting to go down different avenues musically with just a guitar and a microphone is innovative is impressive – and the crowd loves it, too.

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Throughout the evening he set up a vibe that kept people on their feet, crowding the stage, bobbing heads and dancing. After roughly an hour of music Keller took a short set break we all knew that the second set would be a real treat. His ability to incorporate all of the lessons that he has learned from a long list of artists who have found their way into his world, filtering their music through his own experiences until something wholly unique emerges. The first set featured such fan favorites as “Let’s Jam”, “Juicy Fruit” and “Uncle Disney”.

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Keller quickly dove into the second set with a standout cover of the Grateful Dead’s “Shakedown Street”. Keller’s knack for nailing Dead covers is no new concept. Of course he did a great covers of “Sugaree” and “Til’ the Morning Comes”, in the first set but he rose to the high expectations of the crowd with far more than a typical Dead cover of “Shakedown Street”. Certainly the highlight of the show Keller took the song in several directions with the most impressive display of his “looping” capabilities. While remaining a serious musician Keller has a sense of humor and sarcasm. For example, in his song “Gate Crashers Suck” he displays his anger towards deadheads who stormed the gates at the Grateful Dead’s yearly Deer Creek performance in 1995, causing the second night to be cancelled. Regardless of political views, it was clear that Keller was more joking around than trying to make serious political statements with his music.

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Returning for one last humorous song, Keller finished his brilliant performance with “Boob Job”. This was one of those shows at the Tralf and everyone walking out of the venue knew they had seen something spectacular that evening. The set list balanced acoustic, jam and bass – progressing perfectly from chill to lively. Keller Williams is one of those unforgettable musicians who you know when you see him on stage that he loves what he does, he loves the music and he loves feeling the vibe of others feeling his vibe, which is love for music. To best sums up what Keller Williams has always been about—something different. He is still continues exploring and expanding and is considered one of the most tireless musical seekers around. Just don’t even think of calling him predictable.

Set 1-
Jam->
Turtle in the Front Row
Breathe
Sugaree
Let’s Jam
Wicked
Juicy Fruit Theme Song->
Passapanzy
More a Little
Hear & See
Uncle Disney
Doobie in My Pocket
Between Your Heart and Your Head
Til’ The Morning Comes

Set 2-
Bob Rules
Gate Crashers Suck
Shakedown Street
?
?
Floatin on the Freshies
Love Handles
Mary Jane
Super Hot Girl

Encore-
Boob Job

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Keller Williams is coming to The Tralf Music Hall in Buffalo on February 22nd

Keller Williams will be performing on February 22nd in Buffalo NY at the Tralf Music Hall. For those of you who are not familiar with Keller Williams, he hails from Fredericksburg, VA and plays a combination of folk music, bluegrass, reggae, alternative, and funk. Keller puts on a unique performance by hooking his Gibson guitar into a Echoplex delay system. This allows him to create loops on stage so he can have the sound of an entire band while only performing by himself on stage. Instruments that he plays include the harmonica, trumpet, didgeridoo and a host of other assorted instruments. .

Keller Williams has been called guitar’s mad-scientist, a one-man band for the new millennium, and dozens of other clever sobriquets dreamed up by fans and music journalists trying to get a handle on his uplifting and ever-shifting style of music. Though Keller’s music has evolved since he first started playing music over twenty years ago, some things have remained constant: Keller is a prolific artist, an exceptional guitarist, and an accomplished songwriter.

Keller Williams Promo-Tralf 2-22-13
PHOTO: Thursday in the Square, Buffalo NY, August 9, 2007

The Best of UpstateLIVE 2012

Looking back on 2012, UpstateLIVE has grown exponentially, expanding our staff across New YorkState, including a partnership with the Bandier Program at SyracuseUniversity, and in the process we have covered some amazing shows. The writing and photography staff at UpstateLIVE saw a combined 250+ shows, as well as a couple dozen festivals around the country, and even a festival in Indonesia. This list represents our take on the Best of Live Music in 2012 spanning the country through our musical travels and all across Upstate New York. With categories of Best Show, Best Upstate Show, Best Festival, Best Upstate Festival, Best Album and Best Upstate Album, you’ll find a wide-range of musical interests and tastes, as well as some familiar names for Upstate New Yorkers.

In a nutshell – Phish at SPAC looks to be the Best Upstate Show(s) while Catskill Chill and moe.down got the most love for Best Upstate Festival. Three bands – Jimkata, Timbre Coup and Eastbound Jesus were tops in voting for Best Upstate Album of the Year. Read on to see what else made the list from our writers, photographers and staff…

Herby One – Publisher, Baldwinsville, NY

Best Show: Phish at StarLake, Burgettstown, PA, June 23rd

Best Upstate Show: MaxCreek, WaterStreetMusic Hall, Rochester, February 4th

Best Festival: Maine Lobster Festival

Best Upstate Festival: Grassroots Festival, Trumansburg, NY, July 19th-22nd

Best Album: Cabinet – Eleven

Best Upstate Album: Big Leg Emma – Revival

photo by Andy Hill

Pete Mason – Online Editor/Lead Writer, Albany, NY

Best Show: Phish at SPAC, July 8th

Best Upstate Show: John Prine and Lucinda Williams, Palace Theater, Albany, NY, August 17th

Best Festival: Bear Creek Music and Arts Festival, November 8th-11th

Best Upstate Festival: Backwoods Pondfest, Peru, NY, August 17th-18th

Best Album: Strangefolk: Live at the Capitol Theater

Best Upstate Album:  tie: Jimkata – Die Digital // Soul Risin – Rise and Fall

photo by Matthew Balch

Sue Rice – Staff Writer, Albany, NY 

Best Show: Trey Anastasio Band, House of Blues, Boston, MA, October 27th

Best Upstate Show: The Punch Brothers at The Egg, September 30th

Best Festival: Catskill Chill, Camp Minglewood, Hancock, NY, September 7th-9th

Best Upstate Festival: Catskill Chill Catskill Chill, Camp Minglewood, Hancock, NY, September 7th-9th

Best Album: Mumford & Sons Babel

Best Upstate Album: Eastbound Jesus – Holy Smokes

photo by Nicholas Fitanides

Melissa Walker, Staff Writer, Marketing/Publicity Utica, NY

Best Show: NY Banjo Summit, State Theater, Ithaca, NY, November 2nd

Best Upstate Show: tie – Moho Collective at the Utica Greens Festival, September 15th // Rawson at the KirklandArtsCenter. November 4th

Best Festival: Utica Music and Arts Festival, September 13th-15th

Best Upstate Festival: Fiddler’s Picnic, June 8th-10th, Marion, NY

Best Album: tie – Thunder Body’s Radioactive // Digital Mosaic Foundation, Do Right

Best Upstate Album: The Rusty Doves –Live

photo by Sara Tiberio

Jenni Rose Wilson, Contributing Writer, Albany, NY

Best Show: STS9, Best Buy Theatre, NYC, November 10th

Best Upstate Show: Keller Williams, Upstate Concert Hall, September 21st

Best Festival: Catskill Chill, Camp Minglewood, Hancock, NY, September 7th-9th

Best Upstate Festival: Catskill Chill, Camp Minglewood, Hancock, NY, September 7th-9th

Best Album: Medeski Martin and Wood- Free Magic

Best Upstate Album: Timbre Coup- Knuckles and Valleys

photo by Andy Hill

Lindsay Jones, Contributing Writer, Utica, NY

Best Show you attended – Phish Dicks 9/1/12

Best Upstate Show: tie – Jimkata & Floodwood at Saranac Thursdays, Utica, NY, August 9th // Lucid at Duo, Saratoga, NY, July 7th

Best Festival: moe.down XIII, Turin, NY, August 10th-12th

Best Upstate Festival: moe.down XIII, Turin, NY, August 10th-12th

Best Album: Grace Potter and the Nocturnals – The Lion, The Beast & the Beat

Best Upstate Album: The Felice Brothers – God Bless you Amigo

photo by Sara Tiberio

Lori Ann Christina – Contributing Writer, Clifton Park, NY

Best Show: Bob Weir Solo Acoustic, Colonial Theatre, Pittsfield, MA, April 29th

Best Upstate Show: tie – Jackie Greene, Club Helsinki, HudsonNY, October 27th // Warren Haynes, The Egg, Albany, NY, October 13th

Best Album: Chris Robinson Brotherhood The Magic Door

Best Upstate Album: The Nellies – The Nellies

photo by Tom Sinkora

Chris McMullen, Contributing Writer, Oneonta, NY

Best Show: tie – Phish at DCU, Worcester, MA, June 8th // STS9 at Fox Theater, Oakland, CA, April 21st

Best Upstate Show: Ott & The All Seeing I. The Westcott Theater; Syracuse, NY October 7th

Best Festival: Electric Forest; Rothbury, MI, June 28th-July 1st

Best Upstate Festival: Catskill Chill, CampMinglewood, Hancock, NY, September 7th-9th (Honorable mentions to Harvest Fest & Psybient Soire)

Best Album: tie – Doomtree – No Kings // Caravan Palace – Panic

Best Upstate Album: Jimkata – Die Digital

photo by OTT

Quinn Donnell, Contributing Writer from Bandier Program at Syracuse University

Best Show: Vampire Weekend at Pitchfork Music Festival Chicago, July 15th

Best Upstate Show: Dum Dum Girls at Schine Underground, Syracuse University, October 11th

Best Festival: Pitchfork Music Festival, Chicago, July 13th-15th

Best Album: Michael Kiwanuka—Home Again

Best Upstate Album: Dumb Talk—Dumb Talk

photo by Quinn Donnell

Lauren Lagowski, Contributing Writer, Buffalo, NY

Best Show: Radiohead, Blossom Music Center Cuyahoga Falls, OH, June 6th

Best Upstate Show: The Wood Brothers, The Tralf Buffalo, NY, June 24th

Best Festival: Purple Pig Music Festival, Naples, NY, September 28-30

Best Upstate Festival: Purple Pig Music Festival, Naples, NY, September 28-30

Best Album: Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros – Here

Best Upstate Album: Giant Panda Guerilla Dub Squad – Country

Tabitha Clancy, Staff Writer, Schenectady, NY

Best Show: Railroad Earth with Cornmeal, Best Buy Theater, NYC, February 25th

Best Upstate Show: Levon Helm’s Midnight Ramble with Mumford and Sons, The Barn, Woodstock, NY, March 10th

Best Festival: Hangtown Halloween Ball, Placerville, CA Octobver 26th-28th

Best Upstate Festival: The Mighty HighMountain Fest, Tuxedo, NY May 18th-20th

Best Album: Mumford and Sons – Babel

Best Upstate Album: Eastbound Jesus – Holy Smokes

photo by EastBound Jesus

Mary Morgan Craig, Contributing Writer from the Bandier Program at Syracuse University

Best Show: Regina Spektor, Orpheum Theater, Boston, MA, March 10th

Best Upstate Show: Gramatik, Westcott Theater, Syracuse NY, October 13th

Best Festival: Identity Festival, Comcast Center, Mansfield, MA, July 26th

Best Album: Frank Ocean – Channel Orange

Best Upstate Album: (Lake Placid native) Lana Del Rey – Born to Die

photo via Lana Del Rey

Greg Jackson, Senior Writer, Syracuse, NY

Best Upstate Festival: Fox Fest, Syracuse, NY, August 5th-6th

Best Upstate Album: Mark Doyle and The Maniacs – Pushin’

Photo by Juan Junco

Lenny Stubbe, Contributing Writer and Resident Taper, Buffalo, NY

Best Show: Phish at StarLake, Burgettstown, PA, June 23rd

Best Upstate Show: Phish at SPAC, July 8th

Best Album: Mickey Hart Band: Mysterium Tremendum

Best Upstate Album: moe. – Whatever Happened to the LaLa’s

photo by Andy Hill

Gauraa Shekhar, Contributing Writer from the Bandier Program at Syracuse University

Best Show: Local Natives, Bowery Ballroom, Brooklyn, NY, October 18th

Best Upstate Show: Fiona Apple, State Theater, Ithaca, NY, June 19th

Best Festival: Java Rockin’land – July 6th-8th, Jakarta, Indonesia

Best Album: Fiona Apple’s The Idler Wheel Is Wiser Than the Driver of the Screw and Whipping Cords Will Serve You More Than Ropes Will Ever Do

Best Upstate Album: The Vanderbuilts – Miguel’s Orchard

Johnny Goff, Contributing Writer, Ithaca, NY

Best Show: Phish at Dicks, Denver, Colorado, September 1st

Best Upstate Show: Phish at SPAC, July 7th

Best Festival: Grey Fox BlueGrass Festival, Oak Hill, NY, July 19th-22nd

Best Upstate Festival: Grassroots Festival, Trumansburg, NY, July 19th-22nd

Best Album: David Byrne & St. Vincent – Love This Giant

Best Upstate Album: Jimkata – Die Digital

photo by Sara Tiberio

Avery Galek, Contributing Writer, Oswego, NY

Best Show: The final Oak & Bone show, Badlands, Syracuse, June 9th

Best Upstate Show: Converge and Torche at Waterstreet Music Hall, Rochester, October 13th

Best Festival: Seneca Waves Music and Arts Festival, August 11th

Best Upstate Festival: Sterling Stage Folk Fest, May 24th-27th

Best Album: The Melvins – Freak Puke

Best Upstate Album: Black Throat Wind – Between White Worlds

via SSG Music

Tim O’Shea, Contributing Writer, Morris Plains, NJ

Best Show: Phish at StarLake, Burgettstown, PA, June 23rd

Best Upstate Show: Phish at SPAC, July 8th

Best Festival: Gathering of the Vibes, Seaside, CT, July 19th-22nd

Best Upstate Festival: moe.down XIII, Turin, NY, August 10th-12th

Best Album: Ben Folds Five – The Sound of the Life of the Mind

Best Upstate Album: Timbre Coup – Knuckles and Valleys

photo by Andy Hill

Sara Tiberio, Staff Photographer and Contributing Writer, Rochester, NY

Best Show: Bon Iver at Brewery Ommegang in Cooperstown, NY, September 17th

Best Upstate Show: Rubblebucket at BoulderFest in Rochester, NY, July 21st

Best Upstate Festival: Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival, June 22nd-30th

Best Album: Animal Collective Centipede Hz

Best Upstate Album: tie – ThunderBody RadioActive // Mosaic Foundation Do Right

photo by Sara Tiberio

Jim Gilbert, Staff Photographer, Clifton Park, NY 

Best Show: Lamb of God/Hatebreed, Glens Falls Civic Center, November 15th

Best Upstate Show: The Viking, Upstate Concert Hall, January 7th

Best Festival: Q-Ruption at SPAC, September 1st

Best Upstate Festival: Q-Ruption at SPAC, September 1st

Best Album: Shadows Fall, Fire From the Sky

Best Upstate Album: Timbre Coup, Knuckles and Valleys

photo by Andy Hill

Chris DeCotis, Staff Photographer and Contributing Writer, Lansingburgh, NY

Best Show: Phish, Bader Field, Atlantic City, NJ, June 16th

Best Upstate Show: Excision at Upstate Concert Hall, March 26th

Best Album: Radio Music Society by Esperanza Spalding

Best Upstate Album: Rawtopsy by Animal Cracker

photo by Pete Mason

Amy Fischer, Contributing Writer and Street Teamer Extraordinaire, Albany, NY

Best Show: Phish at SPAC, July 6th

Best Upstate Show: Medeski Martin and Wood, MassryCenter at Saint Rose, October 1st

Best Festival: Catskill Chill, CampMinglewood, Hancock, NY, September 7th-9th

Best Upstate Festival: Bellstock, Catskills, July 13th-15th

Best Album: Trey Anastasio Traveler

Best Upstate Album: Timbre Coup Knuckles and Valleys

photo by Chris De Cotis

Neil Benjamin, Jr., Contributing Writer, Syracuse, NY

Best Show: Phil Lesh and Friends at Levon Helm’s Barn, Woodstock, NY, June 17th

Best Upstate Show: Primus at the Landmark Theater, Syracuse, NY, May 20th

Best Festival: moe.down XIII, Turin, NY, August 10th-12th

Best Upstate Festival: Backwoods Pondfest, Peru, NY, August 17th-18th

Best Album: Rubblebucket Oversaturated EP

Kimberly Zesky, Contributing Writer, Saranac Lake, NY

Best Show: Beats Antique, Higher Ground, Burlington, VT, September 23rd

Best Upstate Show: Rubblebucket, St. Lawrence University, Canton, NY, April

Best Festival: Wakarusa, Mulberry Mountain, Ozark, Arkansas, May 31st-June 3rd

Best Upstate Festival: Grassroots Festival, Trumansburg, NY, July 20th-22nd

Best Album: Mumford And Sons Babel

Best Upstate Album: Jimkata Die Digital