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Published: 2003/10/22
by Kenny Marsh

Charlie Hunter and Keller Williams, Troy Savings Bank Music Hall, Troy, NY- 10/17</b.

The Troy Savings Bank Music Hall was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1989 and after stepping foot into this wonderful building, one can see why. The hall has hosted some of the world's most famous classical, jazz, acoustic and world music artists since its opening in the 1890's and is known throughout the world for its amazing acoustics. Once inside the walls in the foyer of the theatre were decorated with glass mirrors and murals, complete with several doormen for your added pleasure.

I knew we were in for a treat with Charlie playing a rare solo show to kickoff a tour stretching the rest of the calendar year. I had arrived halfway through Charlie Hunter's set but was immediately drawn in with the rest of the very attentive crowd all of whom were sitting down. Hunter was very animated in this all too short set. He playfully breezed through about a half dozen songs that varied from straight jazz to danceable funk with a Stevie Wonder cover thrown into the mix. The acoustics were amazing as the audience could hear every subtle pluck on Hunter's 8-string guitar. Hunter stopped to converse with the audience several times and tried to loosen up the crowd, which was still seated and somewhat subdued. Hunter asked the soundman, Lou Gossain for time, and with little time left, he called up Keller for a song. The audience perked up immediately with many expecting Keller to pick up one of his nearby guitars, but he opted for a Djembe instead. After a quick, short tune, Charlie's set ended and Keller was due up.

After a short intermission Keller cam back out amid his arsenal of guitars, percussion and various other instruments he uses to amuse himself. He kept up the jazz mood set by Hunter with some fast paced instrumental jamming that went in and out of "Moondance" by Van Morrison without vocals. This launched into a standard "Stargate" that brought up a nice bass loop. This flowed into "Brunette" and then a wonderful "Breathe". It was here that the crowd seemed to get into the set a little more, with a tune most everyone was familiar with. "Breathe" had the now almost standard "Tube Loop" in-between verses. Dancing from one instrument to another, he created a varied texture of percussive instruments, whistles, and bells that culminated in a bass jam. This acoustic bass adventure brought us into "Multisyllabic", as Keller jokingly told us that this was the sing along part of the show. A fairly new weapon in Keller's attack is his use of an ironing board slide guitar. He showcased this is in "I Can't Play the Blues" while singing about how he can't play, but he'll play as well as a "crack-ass cracker can". Shortly afterwards, we were treated to Keller at the venue's grand piano for a fine cover of Joni Mitchell's "Real Good for Free". The set ended with a drum loop that had Keller segueing into "Celebrate Your Youth" as he slid over to the left side of the stage to dance with the few people who actually dared stand up and move. Lou joined K-dub for "Boob Job" to open the encore and then we got "Kidney in a Cooler" to round out a wonderful evening.

Overall, a very well played show by both performers in a wonderful setting. The crowd was very attentive and respectful (expect the guy who ran out of the theatre puking). The only negative to the evening was the lack of dancing, but that is something expected given the nature of the music hall although the stellar acoustics did provide ample compensation.

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