David Nelson Band
Keeper of the Key
First Appeared at The Music Box, June 1998, Volume 5, #6
Written by John Metzger
Recorded live at the Eight by Ten in Baltimore on May 6, 1995, Keeper of the Key captures the sound of the David Nelson Band perfectly. It should win the group a lot of new fans, if only it could get a little bit more exposure. The ensemble's sound shows how close in spirit Nelson and his crew are to the Grateful Dead, which shouldn't be a surprise, considering that, among other things, Nelson was a founding member of New Riders of the Purple Sage and also spent some time with Jerry Garcia's 1987-1988 acoustic band. Nelson drew upon his NRPS connection by pulling bassist Bill Laymon and drummer Arthur Steinhorn into the band. Rounding out the David Nelson Band are electric/pedal steel guitarist Barry Sless and keyboardist/accordion ace Mookie Siegel, both of whom performed with Kingfish.
All of the songs on Keeper of the Key are incredibly infectious, and they explode into a total meltdown of transportational psychedelic energy. Impressionists Two-Step is amusing and cheerful. The Wizard's Son delves into a musical theme not all that different from the Grateful Dead's Bird Song before it veers into the Chuck Berry-influenced Four: Fifty-One.
The highlight of Keeper of the Key, however, is the wonderful trilogy of See So Far, Sage & Egg, and Jerry Garcia's The Wheel. See So Far kicks off this 23-minute suite with an underlying rhythm that is reminiscent of Bob Weir/Kingfish's Lazy Lightning, but the David Nelson Band reworks it into a country-rock extravaganza. Quickly, the group transforms the song into a spaced-out jam as Sless rips through a mystical solo that channels the spirit of Garcia. The ensuing jam is titled Sage & Egg, and it roams far and wide, visiting the free-form space so often traveled by the Grateful Dead. A wonderful Spanish Jam is included, and the whole piece provides the perfect segue into a glorious version of The Wheel. Do yourself a favor, and don't miss this disc.
1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!
Copyright © 1998 The Music Box