The Lockn’ Festival will launch another star-powered schedule on Thursday in Nelson County, and Keller Williams will be back to give the event its traditional Sunday start.
Williams’ Grateful Gospel show will begin at noon Sunday, the final day of the Arrington music festival, with a reverent musical approach to the Grateful Dead and the legendary band’s ability to bring listeners of all backgrounds into the fold.
“I’m very, very grateful to play at the festival,” Williams said. “This isn’t your typical gospel show. It’s celebrating the Grateful Dead and their traditional spiritual side.
“It has a very traditional Sunday vibe to it, but it’s more on the Grateful side than the gospel side.”
Williams will bring an 11-member band; listen for vocal harmonies by Williams and six other singers.
“I’ll be playing guitar and leading the band,” he said. “It’s my main gig at the festival.”
Williams, who moved back to Virginia to live in 2000, lives only a couple of hours away from the concert site, and he looks forward to catching up with musical friends and hearing good music while he’s there.
“It has a very Virginia vibe that I’m very proud of,” said Williams, who calls himself a “festivarian,” or someone who loves festivals.
Williams released “Add,” the latest of his two dozen albums, on May 31. He said he records “on a self-indulgent level to document where I am at a given time.”
“I’m nowhere near the mainstream, but the reaction has been positive,” he said. “The folks who hear my music are the folks who’ve been listening for the past decade plus.”
And Williams said fans can look forward to another collection this fall. “Speed” is the third record by Keller and the Keels, which teams Williams up with friends Larry and Jenny Keel.
“It’s called ‘Speed,’ and it’s full of very fast songs,” he said. “We have a great time playing together.”
Lockn’ isn’t Williams’ only favorite local venue; he has fond memories of countless Charlottesville performances dating back to the early 1990s.
“I used to do Coupe de Ville’s once a week. I got to play Trax back in the day,” Williams said. “I used to go to Miller’s more often than I’d play there.” That’s where he enjoyed listening to Tim Reynolds, John D’earth, Carter Beaufort, Stefan Lessard and other local luminaries.
He also has fond memories of gigs at Starr Hill Brewery and Blue Ridge Brewery before that, as well as satisfying sets at the Jefferson Theater and opening for Leo Kottke at the Paramount Theater.
This week, however, is all about Lockn’.
Thursday’s schedule includes Jerry Dance Party at 3 p.m., Audacity Brass Band at 4 p.m., Midnight North at 4:30 p.m., Andy Franco and the U.N. at 5:30 p.m., Khruangbin at 6:30 p.m., Gary Clark Jr. at 8 p.m. and Joe Russo’s Almost Dead at 9:30 p.m.
Friday’s lineup starts with Surprise Attack at 12:30 p.m. and continues with Greg Humphreys Electric Trio at 1 p.m., Moonalice with Lester and Dylan Chambers at 1:45 p.m., Melvin Seals and JGB with John Kadlecik at 2:45 p.m., Edie Brickell & New Bohemians at 4:15 p.m., Pigeons Playing Ping Pong featuring Cory Wong at 5:15 p.m., Old Crow Medicine Show at 6:45 p.m., The Revivalists at 8 p.m. and Trey Anastasio Band featuring Derek Trucks in the second set at 9:30 p.m.
Saturday’s music gets started at 12:30 p.m. with Free Union, followed by Liz Cooper and The Stampede at 1 p.m.; Cory Henry and The Funk Apostles at 2 p.m.; Preservation Hall Jazz Band at 3:15 p.m.; Twiddle with John Popper at 4:30 p.m.; Oteil & Friends featuring Bob Weir, Duane Betts, Melvin Seals, Eric Krasno, Neal Casal, Jay Lane, Jen Hartswick, Nat Cressman, Alfreda Gerald and Lamar Williams Jr. at 6 p.m.; Vulfpeck at 8 p.m.; and Tedeschi Trucks Band featuring Trey Anastasio in the second sexy at 9:30 p.m.
Sunday gets going with Williams’ Grateful Gospel at noon, followed by Deva Mahal at 1:30 p.m., The Soul Rebels at 2:15 p.m., Nakhon and Medicine for the People at 3:15 p.m., Steel Pulse featuring The Soul Rebels at 4:15 p.m., St. Paul and the Broken Bones at 5:30 p.m., moe. at 6:30 p.m., Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit at 7:45 p.m. and Bob Weir and Wolf Bros featuring Susan Tedeschi and Mikaela Davis in the second set at 9:15 p.m.
For tickets, camping information and all the particulars, go online to locknfestival.com.