LIVE REVIEW: Keller Williams, Alejandro Escovedo 

Fri. Jan. 23 Music Farm, Thurs. Jan. 22 Music Farm

Keller Williams
Fri. Jan. 23
Music Farm

click to enlarge Keller Williams provided more than just a few guitar licks at the Music Farm - ROBERT LATENER
  • Robert Latener
  • Keller Williams provided more than just a few guitar licks at the Music Farm

The girl next to me at the bar was holding a piece of cardboard adorned with the face of Reba McEntire, glued onto the image of a voluptuous centaur. I had to ask. On the back, she'd written "Huey Lewis — I Want a New Drug." Immediately, I wished I hadn't been late to the show. Whether it was Reba, Huey, or their combined allure, Keller Williams rewarded the girl's creative efforts and covered the song, just before I arrived midway through the first set. But the one-man virtuoso, amidst a backdrop designed to look like a guitar store (and featuring nearly 20 mostly-stringed instruments that he randomly picked off the wall throughout the show), still dealt out a fair share of hits from past decades.

Highlights of the show included the Allman Brothers' "Midnight Rider" and the Offspring's "Self-Esteem." Despite all the guitar/percussion/dance-madness looping, Keller's simple version of the Dead's "He's Gone," played alone on the keyboard, was the best indication of how he's progressed as a musician in his 10-year rise to fame. He can play 10 instruments, or just one, with equally loose precision. —Stratton Lawrence

Alejandro Escovedo
Thurs. Jan. 22
Music Farm

click to enlarge Escovedo's band rocked harder and more dynamically than expected - T. BALLARD LESEMANN

There was plenty of elbow room at the Farm last Thursday, but the small, totally attentive audience retained a genuinely dense level of enthusiasm and stayed locked into the riffs, rhythms, and melodies from singer/guitarist Alejandro Escovedo and his current backing trio. The tall-standing front man looked cool and confident as he led his band through the jangly power-chord opener, "Always a Friend," the Springsteen-esque lead-off track from his new album Real Animal.

Escovedo's guitar tone was impressively deep and edgy, coming through two small but very loud Reverend amps. The musical and sonic standout was guitarist David Pulkingham, however. A tall guy with Beethoven hair and an incredible electric tone of his own, Pulkingham switched to a nylon string acoustic, adding gypsy/Spanish guitar flourishes and some finger-picking passages Willie Nelson would have surely embraced — especially during quieter numbers, like the instrumental ballad "Juarez."

Drummer Hector Muñoz (the "Clem Burke" of El Paso) and bassist Andrew Duplantis (of Son Volt, Meat Puppets) played boldly behind their guitarists, driving the heavy rock of "Chelsea Hotel '78" and "Real as an Animal" (both from the new album) while carefully steering the dynamic of the softer stuff with ease. Escovedo's amiable and gracious manner was consistent through the show as he shared the spotlight, sang with earnestness, and told amusing stories between songs. During a lengthy encore, he even dedicated a few tunes to two late punk heroes — Ron Asheton of the Stooges and Joe Strummer of the Clash — and sent Mott the Hoople's "All the Young Dudes" as a shout out to everyone in the room. —T. Ballard Lesemann


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