first_imgThe final day of festivities at the Lockn’ Festival in Arrington, Virginia on Sunday brought an array of music to please even the most discriminate music fan. The heat continued to beat down on the venue, but that didn’t stop attendees from heading down to the Blue Ridge Bowl to catch Keller Williams’ Grateful Gospel, also known as “church” to most festival goers, open up the music of the day. We caught up with Williams over the weekend to get his take on the Lockn’ Festival over the years. He has performed at all four and indicated he was “technically the first act on the bill at the very first Lockn’ however, Kyle Hollingsworth and Jason Hann, [both of String Cheese Incident] actually played the first couple songs. They were out on stage with an accordion and a doumbek. I don’t think there was a microphone and that was the first year. We lovingly named it GridLockn’ because there was a massive traffic jam.”Keller went on to explain how he was stuck in the gridlock nightmare along with everyone else that first year: “It was about an hour away from my set and I’m about a mile away from the stage, and had been sitting there for a while.  I ended up going the wrong way down the street passing all these parked cars and almost inciting a little hippie riot, but thank god it didn’t come to that. The next year they solved all those problems of injury and figured it out.”Because so many people love attending his “church” performance on Sunday, he went on to explain, “I’m very grateful to be a part of this thing, especially to be able to be surrounded by a band like that. A lot of those folks in the Grateful Gospel actually come from a gospel background and a lot of Jerry Garcia’s music went there, so we are kind of breaking out those elements in more of “black gospel,” so to speak.  If you say black gospel, as opposed to white gospel, it’s completely different.  Although it doesn’t sound politically correct, there’s a huge difference between black gospel and white gospel. This is definitely black gospel, that’s heavy on the soul and funky side. It seems to translate. It’s really special. It’s a morning set, and everyone’s used to night time, and you’ve got all day, with food and drinks and everyone’s kind of sluggish. The morning is pretty much a very high energy thing and people are fresh.”As for being able to enjoy time at the festival, he went on to say, “I’ve been able to move in for the weekend. It doesn’t usually happen that often. I’m usually in and out. I’ve been very lucky to be able to play so many festivals. Usually you get to the site an hour before you play, and then leave an hour after you play and head to the airport to go to another festival. It’s very rare that I can actually hang out and absorb it like I can here. It makes me very relaxed. I don’t have to go anywhere. I don’t have to worry about airplanes.”He shared some memorable moments over the years. “I have so many. The last outdoor Allman Brothers show was pretty special. Sitting in with String Cheese the first year on the giant stage was really a rush. During St. Paul & The Broken Bones, I cried. It was daylight, it was hot. There wasn’t a whole lot of people, but it was so real, and so raw and full of emotion that translated to me as I was watching from upstairs on the side stage. It was one of those things where I put my glasses on and didn’t let anyone see the tears coming down. It was that good. I had heard of them before, heard their music and seen them on television.Tom Petty was really cool a couple years ago. That sparked a novelty project I did once called Petty Grass. I did all the hits blue grass style of Tom Petty songs. I did it once.”If you’ve never seen Keller Williams Grateful Grass or Grateful Gospel, here’s a sample from his Saturday performance at Lockn’ this year, with video credit to iccuspunk on YouTube. Words by Sarah Bourque.  Follow on Twitter.Photographs by Sam Shinault Photography.last_img

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