Live at the Killer Guitar Thriller
Tastee Tone Records
Vermont’s Dave Keller is the protégé of two soul bluesmen; Mighty Sam McClain and Johnny Rawls. Keller’s album “Where I’m Coming From” won the award for Best Self-Produced CD at the 2012 International Blues Challenge. In 2014 Keller released “Soul Changes” and he received his first Blues Music Award nomination as “Soul Blues Album of the Year”. Keller signed with Bob Trenchard’s Catfood Records and in 2018 released “Every Soul’s A Star” resulting in another BMA nomination in the same category.
The Bucks County Blues Society established in 1977 is the oldest Blues society in the country. Their Spring Fever Footstomper has been an annual event since 1981 when the headliner was Luther Allison. Occasionally the Bucks County Blues Society event is co-billed as the Killer Guitar Thriller which premiered in 1983 with Matt “Guitar” Murphy. And so it is an honor to be selected to headline this annual event.
On April 28th, 2019 the band’s trusty van carried Keller, guitar and vocals; Alex Budney, bass; and Jay Gleason, drums; to the VFW in Edgely, Pa. for the Footstomper billed as “The Return of the Triple Threat Killer Guitar Thriller”; a triple threat being an outstanding singer, guitarist and songwriter. This live set recorded by Butch Evancio captures the raw energy and exuberance of that Sunday performance.
The set includes four originals reprised from “Every Soul’s A Star” including the title track; “Don’t Let Them Take Your Joy”; “It’s All In Your Eyes” and “Kiss Me Like You Miss Me”. Two additional songs are from Keller’s 2016 album “Right Back Atcha” including that title track, and “Slow train” the song that opens the set. From 2014’s “Soul Changes” is “17 Years” a song Keller co-wrote with his songwriting mentor, the late great Darryl Carter. Keller’s guitar phrasing helps highlight these well written songs.
The remaining songs from the set are selected covers. I enjoy these as much as his originals as it gives listeners a chance to get inside Keller’s head; to hear him re-create songs that helped to inspire him. Included are “Steppin’ Out” recorded by Robert Cray in 1995; a medley of Sonny Boy Williamson II’s “My Younger Days” first recorded in 1966, and Jody Williams’ “Moanin’ For Molasses”; Magic Sam’s “All Night Long” from 1958; Clifton Chenier’s “Hot Tamale Baby” from 1977; and three songs co-credited to Deadric Malone. “As The Years Go Passing By” recorded by Albert King in 1969; “This Time I’m Gone For Good” recorded by Bobby “Blue” Bland” in 1973; and “Are You Going Where I’m Coming From” from O.V. Wright, also from 1973. These are excellent versions. Once again Keller proves himself a beautifully soulful vocalist.
If you get a chance to see Keller live, do not miss out. Until then you can sit back and enjoy this outstanding set.