When you think of Soul and Blues, what places come to mind…Memphis? Chicago? Vermont? No? Well, Dave Keller is trying to change that. With vocal and songwriting duties on Ronnie Earl’s new 2009 release, Living In The Light, it’s obvious Keller is succeeding.
With inspiration and high praise from Ronnie, Mighty Sam McClain, Paul Rishell and others, Dave Keller launches onto the Soul and Blues scene with Play for Love.
PLAY FOR LOVE is a Soul and Blues recording sure to complement contemporaries John Nemeth, Darrell Nulisch and Curtis Salgado. Interestingly, Keller is both Soul singer and guitar slinger, a rare contemporary find beyond Eli ‘Paperboy’ Reed and James Hunter.
The CD was recorded 100% live in the studio. It offers 13 all original, highly varied blues and soul inspired songs about hurt, love, joy and hope. “Since my last record I’ve watched my two daughters begin their journeys through life, and have taken a hard look at my own. These are not songs that I sat down and tried to write. These are songs I needed to write.”
Not surprisingly, the songs champion determination and resolve over sadness and defeat. Passionate vocals and lyrics translate Keller’s honesty and clarity.
Another strength is Keller’s attention to spaces between the notes. His guitar playing has been described as tastefully subdued, melodic and brimming with the sensibility of an ensemble player. The recording features Keller’s touring band of Ira Friedman on Hammond organ and Wurlitzer electric piano, Jan Schultz on bass and Brett Hoffman on drums.
As a Massachusetts youth, Keller escaped an evil piano teacher, buying a guitar at 16 with money earned sorting bottles in a liquor store. He took lessons from the same instructor as Phish’s Mike Gordon, discovered Hendrix and his influences, and learned from Boston heavy Paul Rishell. After a stint running a blues radio show with Peter Guralnick’s son Jake, Keller immersed himself in Ray Charles, Son House and 40s and 50s gospel. Moving to icy Vermont, he worked at a food shelf and a battered women’s shelter, dabbled in progressive politics, and performed constantly. Between 1993 and 2001 Keller released three recordings: one acoustic, one electric blues (with guest Eddie Shaw), and one full of old school soul, horn-driven R&B and slinky funk.
Blues Revue Magazine wrote Keller is “a tough harp player, an interesting and gritty guitarist, a fine singer with a hint of Gregg Allman to his smoky tone, and a thinker whose interests stretch beyond typical blues boundaries.” Additionally Mighty Sam McClain stepped in to take him on as protégé.
With the release of his newest CD, Keller is ready to share what Ronnie Earl and Mighty Sam already know. He is ‘playing for love’, taking his honest, strong and soulful sound from the Green Mountains of Vermont to the international Blues and Soul scene.