Keller Williams plays benefit shows for Wild South

WILD STYLED: When Keller Williams was asked to play a trio of Wild South benefit shows, the singer-songwriter was quick to accept. "Anything he's involved with usually translates to a bunch of happy, smiling people, and it’s for a great cause," Williams says. "I’m from Virginia and am grateful to be part of something that helps to protect its land and wildlife." Photo by C. Taylor Crothers

Keller Williams considers himself an outdoorsman. The eclectic singer-songwriter enjoys snowboarding and swimming but is also fond of shoe golf, in which players attempt to hit certain objects with their footwear under an agreed upon number of kicks. “This is usually best done late at night in an urban setting. It’s a beautiful way to enjoy nature in the city,” Williams says. “It’s very competitive and exciting, especially when the authorities get involved. Avoiding police is part of it — police arrest is obviously instant disqualification.”

With that fondness for open-air activities, the Virginian easily accepted an offer from longtime friend Bob Robertson of Asheville-based Mountain Roots Management to partner with Wild South for a trio of benefit shows across the Southeast. Following consecutive nights in Birmingham, Ala., and Chattanooga, Tenn., the last of the concerts takes place at The Orange Peel on Saturday, March 28.

The nonprofit grassroots organization has offices in Asheville and Moulton, Ala., and is heavily involved in the Pisgah-Nantahala National Forest plan process that will dictate how lands are managed for the next decade. “There is no better force for shaping this future with a conservation focus than the united voice of tens of thousands of people and collaborations of recreation, public service, faith and conservation organizations,” says Benjamin Colvin, development director for Wild South.

The support of its membership also allows Wild South to ground-truth — cover on foot — hundreds of miles of ancient Cherokee trails in the two forests, unite voices for the continued protection of red wolves in North Carolina and work to protect the last wild places in the western part of the state. Colvin says Williams has gone “above and beyond to show his support and his love of wild places” and sees the shows as key to bringing thousands of new people into the Wild South movement.

A firm proponent of music’s potential to support a greater good, Williams has previously done three digital releases of Grateful Dead covers to benefit the legendary jam band’s non-profit Rex Foundation. Noting that his shows involve a lot of improvisation, both musically and vocally, Williams says he’ll more than likely work in rhymes and what he calls “mini-mantras” that reflect Wild South’s themes throughout the evening.

WHO: Keller Williams with The Stray Birds
WHERE: The Orange Peel,
WHEN: Saturday, March 28, at 9 p.m. $20 / VIP $50

About Edwin Arnaudin
Edwin Arnaudin is a staff writer for Mountain Xpress. He also reviews films for and is a member of the Southeastern Film Critics Association (SEFCA) and North Carolina Film Critics Association (NCFCA). Follow me @EdwinArnaudin

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