Keller Williams’ new CD is something of a surprise album. After all, “Funk” isn’t exactly what fans expect for a title of a record by this musician who is known for acoustic music that leans toward folk.
For Williams, “Funk” is a journey back to one of his core influences and a form of music that has always informed his acoustic guitar playing.
“It feels very normal and a natural progression,” Williams said of “Funk,” which was culled from a series of 2012 concerts with a band featuring bass, drums, keyboards and a pair of female singers.
“It’s always kind of been there for me, that right-hand rhythm of keeping that back beat,” he said. “I’ve always wanted to create some kind of dance vibe, even in the solo acoustic realm. It doesn’t feel like a departure for me at all.”
Williams grew up just south of Washington, D.C., where in the early ’80s, Chuck Brown and Trouble Funk were massive go-go bands,” Williams said, mentioning a funk-influenced style of music that became particularly identified with the Washington, D.C., in the 1960s.
“Once I got into like sixth or seventh grade, I remember I played trombone in the little symphonic band in middle school. ... In the high school in the city I got to be in the marching band. And all the kick drummers, the band director and all of the drummers and percussion, everyone was super, super into the go-go (sound),” he said. “I want to say that’s probably where it really banged me upside the head, because I was so immersed in it and feeling the actual kick drum and the roto toms. I think that’s where it started.”
Circumstances took Williams and his music in directions that made some of his influences – including funk – less obvious than they might have otherwise been. As he noted, he became a solo performer out of necessity, not preference.