The one-man jam-band Keller Williams returns to Denver for a two-part show on Saturday, November 23 at the Ogden Theatre. The show is known as his annual “Thanksforgrassgiving” holiday show and will be the first time he’s brought the event to Colorado. Referring to the show, Keller likes to say that “Thanksgiving is a time to reflect with friends and loved ones on the things and people you are most grateful for. But this weekend is for straight-up face-melting bluegrass.” Keller is known to be quite the goofball both onstage and off, and any audience he plays for is in for a good time. And since he’s headlining the evening, fans will be grinning ear-to-ear from start to finish and will probably leave still laughing.
Virginia “acoustic-roots” band Love Canon will open the night, who Keller himself is a big fan of, musically and otherwise. Following their performance, the first half of the Thanksforgrassgiving show will see a set from Keller & The Keels, a trio which consists of Keller, flat picker Larry Keel and bassist Jenny Keel. With the trio’s new album, SPEED, being released just one day prior to the show, their performance at the Ogden should be something extra special.
SPEED is Keller’s third album with Larry and Jenny Keel, and “reinterprets popular songs in their trademark psychedelic Appalachian-bluegrass style.” The album includes covers of Fiona Apple’s “Criminal,” Kacey Musgraves’ “Slow Burn,” and Weezer’s “Island In The Sun,” just to name a few, along with some original tunes as well. All of Keller’s albums are named one-syllable words, and that one word is meant to embody and explain the entire compilation. This latest album earned its name because he and the Keels “like to play fast — the tunes are quick, upbeat and energetic.”
The second portion of Thanksforgrassgiving will be a headlining set from the Grateful Grass Ensemble, which features a rotating cast of musicians selected by Keller, so no two shows are ever the same. For this Grateful Grass set, Keller will be joined by String Cheese Incident bassist Keith Moseley, Leftover Salmon banjoist Andy Thorn, Zeb Bowles of Hot Buttered Rum and Jay Starling and Andy Thacker of Love Canon. Though these six musicians have never played together, Keller has played with each of them separately, and the collaborative aspect of the project lets everyone bring their own personality to the music.
Together, these six players will perform an entire set of Grateful Dead songs, a band Keller considers one of his greatest musical influences. Grateful Dead songs are covered endlessly and in every capacity, but Grateful Grass puts a bluegrass twist on the classics. Referencing the project, Keller said, “it’s easy to improvise on Grateful Dead songs, and it’s fun to see different takes on these songs.” With the vast array of talent that will be on stage that evening, this episode of Grateful Grass will take old tunes and make them fresh and new.