'Right Back Atcha': Keller to play Stone Church

BELLOWS FALLS — Dave Keller, one of the finest soul and blues men of his generation, is returning to the Stone Church Arts concert series on Saturday at 7:30 pm.

He will be joined by his band: Ira Friedman, Hammond B3 organ and piano; Gary Lotspeich, bass; and Brett Hoffman, drums. In addition, The Mo' Sax Horns will also be there, with Jessica Friedman, on baritone and alto sax, and Joe Moore on tenor sax. This extravaganza of soul and blues will take place at Immanuel Episcopal Church, the stone church on the hill, 20 Church St.

Growing up in Worcester, Mass., Keller loved music, but didn't learn guitar until 16, and didn't sing much until 20, when he stumbled upon the blues and never looked back. In 1993, Keller moved to icy Vermont, launching The Dave Keller Band in 1996. In 1998, he began an enduring friendship with deep soul singer Mighty Sam McClain. His relationship with Sam, as well as with soul/blues greats Johnny Rawls and Robert Ward, added further depth to Keller's music.

Renowned for his live-wire shows — where he could be found 50 feet out in the audience, teasing whisper-soft licks from his strat, singing off-mike to the enrapt crowd, before digging into the strings and tearing the roof off the proverbial sucker — Keller earned a devoted fanbase extending far beyond Vermont. He paid his dues — and his bills — with thousands of gigs, from coffeehouses and bars to the largest festivals in the northeast.

In 2009, Keller was discovered by legendary guitarist Ronnie Earl, and featured as singer and co-writer on Earl's award-winning CD, "Living In The Light."

But just as Keller's music began taking off, his marriage imploded. Channeling the pain of his divorce into his music, Keller won the 2012 International Blues Challenge Best Self-Produced CD Award for "Where I'm Coming From," and earned a 2014 Blues Music Award nomination for Best Soul/Blues Album for "Soul Changes," which he recorded with Al Green's original Hi Rhythm Section in Memphis.

With each album, Keller has grown more adept at turning his personal experiences into universal ones. His newest CD, "Right Back Atcha," continues that course, showcasing his powerful voice, his dynamic guitar playing, and his meaningful, memorable songs.

And who are The Mo' Sax Horns? Moore possesses the most impressive resume of any soul musician in Vermont, having played all over the U.S. with legends including Wilson Pickett, The Staple Singers and the Isley Brothers, as well as projects like Jon Fishman's Pork Tornado. Friedman is a top shelf baritone sax player, known for rocking stages with the late Sandra Wright, and more recently with The Michelle Sarah Band.

Tickets in advance are $20 general admission, $15 for seniors, and $45 for premium, reserved seats. At the door, prices increase by $5 to $25 general admission and $20 for seniors. Information and advance tickets are available in person at Village Square Booksellers on the Square in Bellows Falls, by phone at 802-460-0110, and online at www.stonechurcharts.org.


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