When someone refers to a Blues musician in conversation, the first thing that comes to mind is an older black man sitting on a dark dusty stage talking about how he woke up this morning and his woman was gone. This I have seen many times. Watching Lazy Lester after hours relaying life experiences through his guitar with Jason Moeller keeping time on drums with a very attentive and interested crowd. Or maybe Matt "Guitar" Murphy and James Cotton carrying on a conversation with fans via the language of music.
Mike Keller is no exception. As with many young Blues artists, once Mike experienced the lightning and thunder produced by the eclectic sounds of Stevie Ray Vaughn very early in life, things began to change. First off the very next day he began playing a Fender Stratocaster.
Watching the Keller Brothers band for a few years now, I have only seen an increasing affinity and love for the Blues grow and develop into what I am sure will soon be a nationally known group receiving a very deserved level of attention.
At any point in time, you can go out and watch a guitarist that lives and breathes SRV or Freddie King and their performance will be just that…a spin-off. One of the great aspects of Mike's playing is that he is his own man. Sure he has been inspired by many great musicians, but what he displays on stage is most definitely a product of his own. Mike has apparently realized that the words and feelings that come from his heart and soul integrated in his hands ability to play the guitar is definitely a good recipe for what he undoubtedly does better than many others.
Granted, no team can ever be the best at what they do without the total exhausted efforts of everyone on that team. This is where Matt, Corey and Scott come in. Matt Farrell on keyboards and vocals has to be one of the coolest young musicians around. By cool I mean that he actually understands what is going on around him. A lot of young musicians want everything handed to them on a platter with instant gratification. Farrell knows that success is around the corner with the Keller Brothers band. But what he also knows is that now is the time to enjoy what he is doing to the fullest possibility because in the next year or so there won't be much time for extracurricular activities. Like catching Homer Henderson's one man band on Tuesdays at the Hole in the wall. To see the future is a great thing, but to see and understand today is even better.
Corey Keller, drummer and continuous smiler keeps things together at the back of the stage. Always ready to envelope himself and his ability as a great drummer into the ever so needed position as backbone for the band.
In more than a few instances, Corey and Mike have had opportunities to travel with nationally and world known acts. Any young artist would normally jump at the chance to travel and receive instant fame. However, these guys know in their hearts that sticking together as family should is what will be their key to success.
Keeping the bass line flowing is San Antonio born Scott Nelson. His stage presence is normally of a stoic nature, but his ability to play bass as well as his desire are evident as soon as the band hits the stage. Quiet while on stage, Nelson makes up for this off stage hanging out with friends and roommates.
Remarkably, all four members of the band live together in north central Austin. After two years of living and playing together, one might think how amazing it is that they haven't killed each other. But what defines the foundation for the Keller Brothers compound is literally a house of Blues music and inspiration. A front yard with Soul and R&B growing up like weeds, and a backyard of support from family and friends. In this environment, all bets are on the band to succeed.
If I might note, people are always talking of the next Stevie Ray Vaughn or Buddy Guy, this isn't so here. I predict that within the next five to ten years people will be talking about the next Mike Keller.
Contact and CD order:
3803 Bailey Lane
Austin, Texas 78756
This review is copyright © 1999 by Bill Garza, and Blues On Stage, all rights reserved.