Humility, fearlessness and virtuosity: Keller Williams has each of these qualities. The man with many bands and many, many songs returns to the Crystal Bay Casino on Saturday to perform with his quartet KWahtro, which is sort of Spanish for four. Whimsicality is another trait Williams possesses.
In a preconcert interview, Williams was peppered with hard-hitting questions. No, he revealed, his acrobatic publicity images are not Photoshoped. How did he do those underwater shots? Rocks in his guitar.
On this tour, Williams used his athleticism in Alaska. The goofy-footed snowboader went heli-sking for the first time, checking off a bucket list item.
What about all those songs he plays? How does he remember them all?
“If I don’t know the first line, the whole song is gone but if I can somehow be kicked off on the first line, then the whole song comes back,” he said. “The lyrics are the hardest thing, especially on songs you don’t do all the time. It’s a great mystery to a lot of people how I can pull that off and I hope it continues.”
With a memory like that, Williams certainly must remember this last appearance at Crystal Bay in February 2015.
“The Floozies played the night before and Lettuce the night after,” he said. “The rain was coming down but it was still a good experience. I remember it well. It’s an incredible music venue with a barn ceiling and an amazing sound system.”
Although Williams has toured nationally for two decades, he doesn’t take his career for granted. He says he’s grateful that people turn out to see him perform. And while he has myriad bands, the ones he performs with are determined by promoters.
KWahtro morphed out of the Keller Williams Trio – Williams, Rob Wasserman and Rodney Holmes. Wasserman is now focusing on his production company, so the KWahtro lineup is Williams and his longtime cohort Gibb Droll on acoustic guitars, Holmes on drums and Danton Boller on stand-up bass. The band had played about 20 shows before heading out on this tour.
Williams talked about each member.
Boller: “He is a truly amazing musician.The upright bass is a whole different monster. I first heard him with the Jazz Mandolin project in early 2000 and he went on to play with Roy Hargrove, a world renowned, living legend trumpet player.
Holmes: “He was with Santana on that huge record, and there are so many amazing people he used to play with in the jazz world. After Santana, he was with Steve Kimock for about seven years. I’ve always appreciated his timing and his sound especially on the live record, “Live in Colorado” I finally had a chance to call him up and boy am I glad I did. He’s probably the most famous one of the group.”
Gibb: “He’s been playing with Bruce Hornsby the last two years. We’ve known each other a long time and that brotherhood comes out onstage. He’s a real listener he can find little harmonies inside my stories that he’s somehow figured out.”
Finally, Williams described the KWahtro sound.
“It’s really not too far away from the sound that I always create and have created. It’s using my music as a template. Two acoustic guitars, acoustic bass and drums and it’s bringing in elements of electronic dance music but into a more acoustic, sonic realm. It’s borrowing tricks from the DJ revolution that’s happening the past two decades but again it’s not too far away from my normal sound.
“We are using all my music There’s a handful of new songs and some old songs that haven’t really seen the light of day that I am going to bring back and bring them into this format and keep this vision alive.”