MUSIC BOX: Acoustic Monsters and Soul Queens

By on September 6, 2016

Keller Williams & Leo Kottke co-bill & collaboration; Sharon Jones funks-up the Pink Garter

Keller Williams hits the road with Leo Kotke this week. First stop: Jackson Hole.

Keller Williams hits the road with Leo Kotke this week. First stop: Jackson Hole.

JACKSON HOLE, WY – In awe of performing with his hero Leo Kottke, Keller Williams said, “I have many heroes but very few who are in the solo acoustic guitar world. Leo is definitely on the top of that short list. This is one of those shows that I’m excited to get into for free.”

No doubt, Mr. Williams. And He is opening for You. Nuances aside, this is a co-bill that will feature solo sets from each artist along with collaboration, and the latter certainly coerces a high level of curiosity. After a short run of dates last spring, the duo of ridiculous finger-style guitarists have announced about seven dates through spring of 2017, the first of which will be downtown at the Center for the Arts.

Two-time Grammy nominee Leo Kottke is a living legend of instrumental-based acoustic guitar virtuosity. Kottke performed at the Center Theater in 2008 and again in 2011, among at least one earlier performance at the Pink Garter Theatre. His witty storytelling is but a bookend to what has been a prosperous recording and touring career since 1968, when he put out the seminal album 12-String Blues. That was not long after the Minneapolis college dropout (the same starting point as Bob Dylan) started playing at the Minneapolis Scholar Coffee House.

What makes Kottke’s singular playing so awe-inspiring is the unpredictable nature of his ensemble style solo escapades, which incorporates staccato, syncopated, rippling alternate bass and treble lines with remarkable harmonic and percussive effects. He’s also charmingly informal a la Mr. Doc Watson, one of his many influences that also includes John Fahey.

“I’m nuts about the guitar. It’s been my whole life since I was eleven,” Kottke has said in previous interviews. “Before I play, I’m playing. After I play, I’m playing.”

In comparison, Keller Williams has created his ensemble, one-man-band performances via precision looping, or “live phrase sampling,” in which he multi-tracks multiple guitar lines and/or incorporates bass guitar, drums, percussion and more. I first encountered Williams courtesy of a 1997 cassette tape bootleg of him playing a coffee shop in Florida. Then, in 2002, he played the Mangy Moose, just a few years after he made the transition from simplified acoustic guitarist and singer-songwriter to one-man jam band. His ever-shifting style modulates within funk, jazz, bluegrass, reggae, techno-grass, and electronica, and he has showcased this through myriad performances in and around the Tetons.

Williams may have the most side projects of any solo artist working today—Keller & The Keels, KW Trio featuring Rob Wasserman and Rodney Holmes, six-piece More Than a Little, Grateful Grass, and KWahtro featuring Gibb Droll, Danton Boller, Holmes, and Zach Deputy. Most recently, the independent recording artist released Bluhm, a five-track EP benefitting fellow musician Tim Bluhm of The Mother Hips. Williams is a longtime fan of Bluhm. Inspired by his plight, he decided to record all Bluhm songs and donate 100 percent of the net proceeds to his medical fund.

For this show, Williams will return to his roots with just an acoustic guitar, no loops. Kottke takes the stage first.

An evening with Keller Williams and Leo Kottke, 8 p.m. Thursday, September 8 at Center Theater. $59-$69. JHCenterForTheArts.org, 733-4900.

Grammy nominated Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings funk it up at the Pink Garter Sunday.

Grammy nominated Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings funk it up at the Pink Garter Sunday.

Visceral rhythm and soul

Sharon Jones is a survivor. After recovering from a 2013 cancer diagnosis, the 60-year-old vocalist was well enough to record the next Dap-Kings album, Give the People What They Want, which earned a Grammy nomination in 2014 for Best R&B Album. Jones was also the focal point of the film Miss Sharon Jones! which debuted at the 2015 Toronto International Film Festival. Unfortunately, Jones revealed at the screening that her cancer had returned but defiantly added, “I’m gonna keep fighting, we got a long way to go.”

She’s been coined a female version of James Brown, and coincidentally (or not), they’re both from Augusta, Georgia. Launching a late career that has added richness and texture to her sound, Jones didn’t cut her first record until she was 40 years old. She spent much of her adult life playing weddings and serving as a corrections officer. Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings have since traveled the world for more than a decade, blowing minds as an 11-piece funk-threaded soul band that has risen to the top of the latest generation of retro acts. Prepare for lift off.

Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings with Acoustic Weapons, 8:30 p.m. Sunday at the Pink Garter Theatre. $53. PinkGarterTheatre.com, 733-1500. PJH

Aaron Davis is a decade-long writer of Music Box, a singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, member of Screen Door Porch and Boondocks, founder/host of Songwriter’s Alley, and co-founder of The WYOmericana Caravan.

160907Music_PlanetPicks

160907Music_PlanetPicks-2WEDnesday

Cycles (Town Square Tavern), Songwriter’s Alley Open Mic ft. Joe Rudd (Silver Dollar)

THURsday

Sista Otis (Town Square Tavern)

FRIday

Mosquitos in Heat (Town Square Tavern)

SATurday

Kurt Van Meter (Silver Dollar), WYOBASS (Town Square Tavern)

SUNday

Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings with Acoustic Weapons (Pink Garter Theatre)

Monday

JH Hootenanny (Center Theater)

TUESday

One Ton Pig (Silver Dollar)

Comments

comments


About Aaron Davis

Aaron Davis is a decade-long writer of Music Box, a singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, member of Screen Door Porch and Boondocks, founder/host of Songwriter’s Alley, and co-founder of The WYOmericana Caravan.

You must be logged in to post a comment Login