Pick, to be released July 3, 2012 on SCI Fidelity Records, is the debut collaboration of Keller Williams and the Travelin’ McCourys. Pre-orders for the album began May 18th at www.kellermccoury.com.
Those who pre-order Pick automatically get two entries into the Pick Me! sweepstakes, where one lucky person will win an all-expenses-paid trip for two to Nashville to hang with Keller, Del, and the Travelin’ McCourys at their just-announced 2012 New Year’s Eve extravaganza at Marathon Music Works. Pick Me! and New Year’s Eve show details available at www.kellermccoury.com.
It’s only after you hear Pick that you come to the inescapable realization that this is a meeting that was predestined. Williams, the über-distinctive singer-songwriter/multi-instrumentalist who’s been described as a “one-man band for the new millennium,” is a tireless musical seeker for whom repetition is never an option. And the Travelin’ McCourys - bluegrass royalty nonpareil with a sharp eye toward innovation - have similarly been dubbed “twenty-first century musical pilgrims and adventurers.”
Pick, is a classic case of the whole being greater than the sum of its parts—although the parts are rather massive on their own, to be sure. Recorded at Nashville’s famed Butcher Shoppe studios, the album’s dozen songs (both originals and covers) fully realize Americana music’s long storytelling tradition, and the impeccable musicianship displayed on Pick captures all of the heart and heartache of the bluegrass genre—and then some: Williams’ unconventional songwriting takes on even greater weight when backed by the Travelin’ McCourys’ emotive tones. Inspired by Keller’s fearless creativity, the Travelin’ McCourys’ flawless playing gains new depth.
Keller Williams with the Travelin’ McCourys will perform together at select summer festivals. The list of these very special shows is included below.
“I can hardly believe what a blast this collaboration has been so far,” says Williams. “To be in the presence of the Travelin' McCourys is to be in the presence of greatness. Sometimes you'll catch us trying not to smile when we play, just to make sure that at least some of the time the music takes precedence over the joy of playing it!”
With decades on the bluegrass circuit under their belt, the Travelin’ McCourys— Rob McCoury on banjo, Ronnie McCoury on mandolin, Jason Carter on fiddle and Alan Bartram on bass—approach their craft with simultaneous reverence for the bluegrass tradition (Ronnie and Rob are the sons of bluegrass icon Del McCoury) and an insatiable desire to move the music forward. Their tight rhythmic sense, jaw-dropping chops and soulful material, performed with an unshakable confidence, takes bluegrass from the safe confines of its predetermined shore into uncharted waters. They’ve played with the Allman Brothers Band, Phish, Warren Haynes and the Lee Boys—not exactly bluegrassers—and are constantly looking for new ways to redefine themselves.
“We like to play traditional bluegrass music the way we do it with Dad, but we also like to be able to step into situations where we can really stretch out,” Ronnie told JamBase. “If we need to plug in, we’ll plug in. We’re open to anything.”
That they were open to teaming with Keller Williams is no surprise. Over the course of his two-decade career, Williams has ceaselessly followed his singular muse, both in a live setting—where he might accompany himself on any number of instruments and electronics—and in the studio, where he’s recorded everything from reggae to rock to experimental music to children’s songs to, of course, bluegrass. Thief, Keller’s 2010 recording with the Keels, reached number #1 on Billboard’s bluegrass chart while last year’s Bass found him utilizing only that instrument throughout the album. Predictability? Not in his vocabulary.
On Pick, Keller Williams—armed this time only with acoustic guitar and a microphone—and the Travelin’ McCourys shine on a dozen tracks that perfectly demonstrate their collective reach, including several new Williams and band-written originals and a handful of surprise but choice covers, including My Morning Jacket’s “Amazed,” Steve Earle’s “The Graveyard Shift” and singer-songwriter Jessie J’s “Price Tag.” The album’s finale, Williams’ “Bumper Sticker,” benefits from a special guest appearance by the man himself, the 73-year-old legend Del McCoury. While the familiar elements of both Keller’s and the McCourys’ music are all in place, the sound that emerges from the troupe collectively takes all of the participants into fresh musical places, where tunefulness meets mystery, virtuosity, daring and a blast of a good time.
Pick is about good pickin’, but it’s about something more: what transpires when two seemingly disparate musical entities find that they have something special to say when they join forces. Pick will surely go down as one of the top picks of 2012 by many an awestruck fan and discriminating critic.
Keller Williams and the Travelin’ Mccourys special summer festival stops:
Friday, May 18 Dominion Riverrock at Brown's Island Richmond VA
Saturday, May 26 DelFest Cumberland MD (with special Keller Solo Set)
Friday, June 1 Mountain Jam Hunter NY
Saturday, June 2 Wakarusa Ozark AR
Thursday, June 28 Electric Forest Rothbury MI
Tuesday, July 3 Lake Superior Big Top Chautauqua Washburn WI
Friday, July 6 Deadwood Mountain Grand Deadwood SD
Friday, August 17 The River Roots Live Music Festival Davenport, IA
Friday, September 14 Jomeokee Arts and Music Festival Pinnacle, NC
Monday, December 31 Marathon Music Works Nashville, TN
New Year’s Eve extravaganza with sets by Del McCoury Band,
Keller Williams (solo), and Keller Williams with The Travelin’ McCourys
Additional dates to be confirmed.
Keep up to date on all things Keller Williams with the Travelin’ McCourys and Pick at www.kellermccoury.com.