Dave Keller – Live at the Killer Guitar Thriller
I reviewed Dave Keller’s first album eleven or so years ago. The fine guitar, vocals and songwriting were evident and I was won over; I thought, “A white guy from Vermont writing, singing and playing killer soul music?” Well, the answer was and remains, “Hell, Yeah!”
This is Dave’s sixth album (seventh if you count the one he produced and played on with Kansas City’s Brother Bob White) and it was recorded live at the Bucks County Blues Society Spring Fever Footstomper Killer Guitar Thriller event that has been held annually since 1983 when Matt “Guitar” Murphy headlined the event. Keller was last year’s headliner.
The trio is Dave on guitar and vocals, Alex Budney on bass Jay Gleason on drums. The album features 15 songs (7 written by Keller and 8 covers) and was recorded the Terchon VFW hall in Edgely, PA in April of 2019.
Keller and company begin the show with his song “Slow Train.” It’s a slick soul song with a great vibe to it. Keller offers up his first solo of the day and sings with the intense passion I’ve come to expect from this great singer. Next is “Steppin’ Out” which is a Syl Johnson song that Keller does a fine job with vocally and on guitar. “My Younger Days/Moanin’ For Molasses” follows, a mashup of Sonny Boy Williamson II and Junior Wells/Buddy Guy tunes. Keller does both more than justice and offers up a very thoughtful guitar solo. His “17 Years” is a deep soul song; this is what soul music is all about. Keller sings with real emotion and plays with equal feeling here. George Jackson’s “Heart On A String” is a peppy cut with a nice groove and a vibrant guitar solo. Keller’s “Right Back Atcha” is the title track from one of his CDs, a cool mid-tempo rocking soul cut with some killer guitar. “Every Soul’s A Star” s another of Dave’s songs, a nice slow soul blues with feeling. “Kiss Me Like You Miss Me” Dave claims is in Johnny Rawls style, and I can’t argue that– he captures the feel of his mentor Johnny in this great song.
Albert King’s “As The Years Go Passing By” gets a really soulful rendition here as Dave lays it all out for us. The funky “Don’t Let Them Take Your Joy” is up next. Dave sings his song with intensity and offers more good guitar to savor. Magic Sam’s “All Night Long” follows with a soulful Dave Keller approach to the cut with breathy vocals and a forthright guitar work. His “It’s All In Your Eyes” off his most recent studio album is a great dance tune with a lot of feeling. The guitar stings as Dave gives another fine performance. “Are You Going Where I’m Coming From” is a super O.V. Wright tune and Dave does a great job with it; more deep, Southern soul to enjoy! “This Time I’m Gone For Good” is a song another of Dave’s mentors Mighty Sam McClain sang a lot and it’s a Bobby Blue Bland tune. Slow, deep soul with a dark message of a relationship that is defunct. Dave again sings with such great feeling on this slow and mournful cut. It’s sort of his anthem about his divorce, too. He tells a personal story during the song which fits well to the song’s theme. The album finishes up with a little zydeco and Clifton Chenier. “Hot Tamale Baby” is a classic cut and Dave does a fine cover of it. Guitar and vocals are once again top notch and he takes up home with a rousing finish.
Someone at the event recorded the show and sent it on to Dave; he was impressed that the music really sounded good so he decided to release the show. The only small flaw in the CD is the overall recording sound of the event. The crowd noise throughout and a little echo here and there is evident, but it also does give you the feeling of being there; the music played by Dave and his band is amazing and there is a cool vibe to the show. If you like to hear new soul music then this one’s for you– Dave Keller is the real deal!