Between Eric's Headphones

Things that float my boat in the world of music

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Keller Williams and Co. Lay Down the Funk at the Handlebar


This was my second time seeing Keller Williams live, and once again I was blown away by his performance.  For those of you who don’t know, Keller is an incredible guitar player who plays “acoustic dance music aka jazzfunkraggaelectronicagrass”.  Although guitar is his primary instrument, calling him a guitar player is selling him a bit short because he also sings and plays bass, drums, keyboard, synth, and more.  He is often described as a “one man jam band” because he uses live phrase looping to create the sound of a full jam band.  He has all his instruments set up on stands so that he can walk up to one, record a riff onto the loop machine, and then move on to the next.  It is one thing to hear, but to watch him actually build all the layers and hear them come together live is something that every music fan out there needs to see/hear for themselves!  Let’s just say that it was no coincidence that I bought myself a loop pedal the same month that I saw my first Keller show.

We lucked out on this particular night, because not only was he playing a full set of his trademark one man jam band loop stuff, but he also played a second full set with a six piece funk/soul band called More Than a Little.  This second set really got the dance party going into full swing.  There were two afro-sporting back up singers, a bass player, keyboard player, drummer, and then Keller in the middle singing lead and playing guitar.  I have never seen a show with this much funk!  It was fantastic.  Apparently he has only been playing with this band for a few short weeks, but you would have never guessed from their performance.  They were right on point.

Since the group is so new, the only decent video of them I could find online is from a rehearsal that someone taped, but it will give you a pretty good idea of what they sound like.  This song, “Bitch,” is making fun of artists that use pitch correction in the recording studio, and was one of my favorites from the show.


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Who Is Your Hero?

Recently I was asked this question, and it took me a long time to come up with an answer.  I had to think about what constitutes a personal hero.  Is it the person that you want to grow up to be just like?  Is it the person who you think has done the most good in the world?  What about the person who is number one in the world at your profession?  Or maybe it’s the most influential proponent of the cause that is most dear to your heart?  Each one of these criteria would probably have a different answer for me, and presumably for most other people as well.

So how do I choose to define my hero?  I’m gonna go with the person who inspires me the most.  For me, this basically translates to whose music I am listening to the most.  This answer changes from season to season, but currently I am completely hooked on Radiohead.  The lead singer, songwriter, and driving force behind Radiohead is Thom Yorke.  So why is Thom my hero?  Because he is an absolutely amazing musician who continually pushes the envelope and creates new ways to blow people away with his music.  His style is constantly changing and evolving, yet somehow it always seems to resonate with me and the millions of other Radiohead fans out there.

He also, along with the rest of the band, makes music for the right reasons.  They use their music to express themselves, inspire other people to do so, bring people joy, and raise money for their many philanthropic causes.  They aren’t in the music business to pursue fame and fortune like many of the others in the industry are.  In fact, they have worked to try and change the music industry to make it more about the fans and the music itself rather than about money and celebrity status.  Thom explained once in an interview, “The freakiest thing about all of this, is the idea that you would be one of those bands to somebody.  That in itself is the reason to keep going. The rest is bullshit.”  Well Thom, you’re one of those bands to me, so keep doing what you do best and play on.

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Sweet Jezebel

Since I’m doing a music blog and all, I decided that it was about time to share some of my own music on here.  Jezebel is a song that I wrote with my friends Pete and Casey while I was studying abroad in New Zealand.  It was written to sound like a love song about a girl named Jezebel, but really Jezebel is a camper van.  See that sexy lookin’ white beauty in all the pictures?  You guessed it, that’s her.  We had a two week spring break from class, so the three of us decided to do a road trip together.  Our goal was to see as much of the North Island as we possibly could, so we concluded that renting a campervan for two weeks was the best way to do this. This way, we could go wherever we wanted, save money by splitting the cost of gas three ways, and wouldn’t have to deal with the hassle of scheduling airlines and buses.  The fact that our ride was a campervan meant that we could also avoid having to pay for hostels, and allowed us to spend the night anywhere we wanted to.  Since we were in New Zealand, this meant that we were camping right next to gorgeous beaches or mountains every single night!

We would visit a beautiful beach and instead of leaving at the end of the day to go back to the nearby town – like most of the rest of the tourists – we would just sleep there for the night.  This way we were getting to see the sunset and sunrise and enjoying the benefits of having the whole place to ourselves nearly every time.  It was quite simply the best two weeks of my whole life.

I had just gotten my cast and sling off about a week before this, (see My New Zealand Arm-Breaking Story below), so my wrist and arm were still very weak and stiff.  I brought my guitar along on the trip, but I could only bend my wrist enough to play with two fingers.  So as a result, this song is made up entirely of two finger chords that require very little wrist movement.  I couldn’t be happier to finally be playing guitar again, so I played the hell out of those two chords until we had an entire song written.  I hope Jezebel is still out there cruising the islands and living the dream.  She sure was a fine lady.

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The Nudge: A New Zealand Band Doing It Right

Keen for a Nudge?  These guys are out of Wellington, New Zealand, but unfortunately I didn’t find out about them until I had already left NZ and returned state-side.  I randomly stumbled across this video one day online, and realized that the whole thing was shot in Wellington!  Really made me miss that city and all the awesome things constantly happening there.  Aside from the fact that they are driving around in my favorite place in the world, the concept for this video is pretty genius.  In order to promote New Zealand’s national carpooling initiative, the band teamed up with the Greater Wellington Regional Council and shot this video of them sharing a ride to work in the coolest way possible.  I would gladly take a construction job if I got to jam out with these guys on the way to work every morning!  Why don’t organizations team up with musicians like this more often to promote their causes?  It’s a fresh and interesting alternative to the standard public service announcement ads that we have grown accustomed to ignoring, and helps promote the band’s music as well.  If there are any marketing professionals reading this, I hope you are taking some notes!

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My New Zealand Arm-Breaking Story

My junior year of college, I got the chance to study abroad for a semester in Wellington, New Zealand.  It was the opportunity of a lifetime, and the best five months of my life so far.  This being said, I actually spent nearly three months of the time I was there in a cast and a sling.  On the third week of my stay there, before classes had even started, I broke my left arm while rock climbing on a trip to the south island.  The hand-hold that I was using to pull myself up broke off from rock face and I fell down about fifteen feet onto my arm.  As a result, I had a broken humerus, a broken scaphoid, a fractured radius, and a dislocated wrist.  Yeah, it hurt.  Bad.

I vividly remember laying on a gurney in the hospital about to go into theatre, (the New Zealand term for the operating room), in order to have a screw put into my wrist.  The doctor was standing beside me explaining that the procedure was very complicated and difficult since my scaphoid was cracked in half and my wrist had been dislocated badly.  I told him that I was a guitar player and asked if I would ever be able to play the guitar again.  He told me that he wasn’t sure, and that it would depend on how things looked when he sliced open my wrist.  Not the answer that I wanted to hear!  All my memories of playing guitar and mandolin and jamming in various bands with my friends flashed before my eyes.  I imagined what it would be like having to sell all my instruments and never play again.  It was then that I realized just how important music was to my life.  There are a million other things that I need my left wrist for, but all I could think about was whether or not I could play the guitar again.  Luckily, I had an amazing doctor and the surgery went just fine.  I made nearly a complete recovery and have no trouble playing any of my instruments whatsoever.

This experience made me realize how passionate I am about playing music and gave me a new appreciation for the role that music plays in my life.  While I do not plan on being a professional musician, I know that I want I to do something in the world of music.  That is why I have chosen to work on a business idea in the music industry.  I will explain more about this as my plan comes along… stay tuned!

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Why I Love Gig Posters

Since I plan on posting a lot of gig posters and articles about them to this blog, I decided to start by writing a little explanation of why I am so enamored with them.  Gig-style posters take the music we love and turn it into something tangible and permanent.  For me, they do so much more than your traditional music poster that simply portrays a picture of the band members posing for the camera.  Sure, they are the ones that created the piece of music that you love, but their appearance is not important to the value of the music or the message that they are conveying.  Gig-style music posters take the message or theme of a song or album and turn it into visual piece of art.  They are created by extremely talented artists who have the ability to bring that piece of music to life on a silkscreen canvas.  This emotional connection is why they are my favorite form of art, and why I have so many of them hanging up in my room.  Also, the style of screen-printed posters just look plain awesome even when you have no earthly idea what is going on in the picture!

Umphrey’s McGee Hauntlanta

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It’s that time of year again boys and girls, Halloween!  I know we are still a few days away, but I am going to a Halloween party tomorrow night, so in my mind the holiday is already upon us.  This time last year, I was at Umphrey’s McGee’s aptly named “Hauntlanta” show at the Tabernacle in Atlanta.  The band and the entire crowd were all decked out in mash-up costumes.  Mash-up costumes are where you combine two characters into one.  Guitarist Brendan Bayliss was “Keith Richard Simmons,” drummer Kris Myers was “Pamela Anderson Cooper,” guitarist Jake Cinninger was “Dimebag Daryl Hall,” keyboardist Joel Cummins dressed as “Vince Neil Armstrong,” percussionist Andy Farag was “Raggedy Andy Rooney” and bassist Ryan Stasik was “Karate Kid Rock”.  For my costume, I dressed as “Pope John Pauly D,” a mixture of Pope John Paul and Pauly D from Jersey Shore.  To go along with the mash-up costumes, Umphrey’s played a set list full of mashed up songs.  This one was my personal favorite: “Come As Your Kids,” a mash-up between Nirvana’s Come As You Are and MGMT’s Kids.