Winter Park/Live music: Shawn Kellerman: ‘Get ready for a great show’
December 12, 2008
The only reason to get the blues this holiday season is if you’re on the dance floor with the Grand County Blues Society.
The organization has two blues shows this month. First, “guitar wizard” Shawn Kellerman is tuning up to put his heart and soul into an “intense” Dec. 13 performance, and then Jimmy Hall will help party goers count down to the new year for a Dec. 31 concert with Ronnie Fruge in the Silverado 11 ballroom.
Kellerman played for the legendary B.B. King at his 80th birthday, and his record with Bobby Rush won Best Acoustic CD of 2007 from the Blues Music Awards. This weekend the “guitar slinger” heads south of Canada to play in the Grand County area for the first time.
He whetted his appetite for music through piano, but it was a friend of his dad’s who brought over a guitar that really caught Kellerman’s interest in the strings. Within a year, he was on stage playing and his passion grew as his dad took him around to shows.
They traveled broadly and jumped at the chance to see American bands brought in by Canadian promoters ” musicians like the Fabulous Thunderbirds, Magic Slim and Otis Clay. Playing the guitar came pretty easily to Kellerman, he said, and he tried to transform everything he saw into his playing.
Spending a handful of years living and playing in and around Mississippi and Washington D.C., learning from masters such as Mel Brown and Deborah Coleman, he became a regular on blues stages. He has entertained at hundreds of international venues in more than 20 countries, and has also started to earn a name for himself on Colorado’s Front Range. He’s played most recently in Boulder, where he met people from the Colorado Blues Society. They liked his sound and gave him a list of contacts, which included John Catt and the GCBS.
“Shawn is capable of conjuring up the ghosts of all the great guitar players in history,” said Catt, one of the GCBS’ founding board members. “I’ve gotten calls from Denver already from people at his other shows telling me to get ready for a great show.”
On the road, Kellerman has developed a distinctive stage presence, showing an “unforgettable high-energy assault on the audience that is as much felt as heard.” He said he likes to go in every direction with his music and that if you like the blues, you will like his tunes. “It’s a good base of enthusiasm for the music and it can only build from there,” he said. “I put everything I have into it.”
His original compositions reflect an influence from the deep south and sprout from what he calls the “nucleus” of classic blues. But he is also helping define modern blues with compositions reaching into the depths of rock, soul, jazz and hip-hop.
With his second CD out and a third one in the works, Kellerman has been taking his career to the next level. After years as a “guitar player for hire” Kellerman is excited to be reintroducing himself as the main act and creating with his own band. It’s the happiest he’s been in his career. Talents joining him for the Dec. 13 performance are bassist Joseph Veloz and new drummer Andrew “Blaze” Thomas.