Ethan Keller
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Ethan Keller

Milwaukee, Wisconsin, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2004 | INDIE

Milwaukee, Wisconsin, United States | INDIE
Established on Jan, 2004
Band Alternative Singer/Songwriter


This band has not uploaded any videos
This band has not uploaded any videos



"One Track Mind: Ethan Keller "Rock and Roll Will Save Your Soul" (2010)"

by Pico

We’ve used this space for bringing telling the world about the recorded accomplishments of artists both popular and obscure, and for us, at least, the talented ones who haven’t emerged yet are usually the ones that are most fun to write about. With those types, there’s a greater chance you’re telling the story to people who hadn’t heard it before and nothing can make a music critic glow with pride if said artist since hits the big time so he can say “See? I told ya’ so.” I’ve been on this site puffing musicians who deserve a wider audience for almost four years, now; inevitably, I’m going to strike gold. And the most likely candidate for that big breakthrough is Ethan Keller.

Keller first got my attention back in ’07, not long after the Milwaukee-based singer, songwriter and guitarist released his self-made debut album Face Light. In ’08, Keller rewarded his devoted fans with an EP titled One Way, that took further steps forward in his artistic development. I’d still be listening to it all the time if my hip-minded dad would just freakin’ give me back the copy I loaned him. But this Friday, April 23, Ethan returns with his second long player that he calls Profit.

Profit is where I could very well finally cash in on one of my many unfulfilled “I told ya’ so’s.” It’s not because Keller has by now virtually perfected his blend of rock, jazz, funk and hip-hop. It’s not because that despite his awareness and embrace of contemporary trends, he still makes music by hand. It’s not even because that for Profit, he brought in two-time Grammy winner Ted Greenberg (G. Love, Chaka Khan, Ben Harper) to produce it. No, it’s because of all of those things.

Coming from a good Catholic household (his father is an ordained priest and his mother a former nun), Keller is a deeply spiritual being and his composing pen outs his spirituality on his sleeve, conveying wisdom and perceptiveness beyond his years, regardless of whether he’s singing it or rapping it. Meanwhile his melodies possess ear-grabbing hooks that sound natural, not contrived. One song from Profit that captures these good things about his music is the good-time rockin’ ditty “Rock And Roll Will Save Your Soul.”

This was one of those songs that was banged out in a matter of minutes. Keller saw the song’s title printed on a t-shirt with he describes as “a skull or something similarly morbid” and decided to turn the phrase into one from the perspective of Jesus, who he sees as egging him on to keep on rockin’ because music is the universal tongue, the way to spread the message. In Greenberg’s hands, the music came out crunchier in a Black Crowes kind of way. The vintage electric piano, the organ adding a soulful mood and the funky bass line combined with Keller’s cutting blues-rock guitar would have made a great hit for Lenny Kravitz back in his heyday. But Keller adds his own flavor to the retro-rocker by singing the verses in hip-hop cadence that bridges generations of listeners while sending a message of soul redemption that spans millenniums.

So, here’s a chance to get ahead of the wave rolling out of southern Wisconsin and order up Profit before even Pitchfork finds out about it and order up a copy. Come to think of it, I better get an extra copy myself to send to Dad so I can hang on to mine. - Soething Else Reviews

"One Track Mind: Ethan Keller "Fallen Idol" (2010)"

“All eyes on the judges, who tabulate the score..."

So where are we on this whole American Idol saga, anyway? I heard that Simon Cowell and Ellen Degeneres had vacated their judges' chairs (this was the first I've heard of Degeneres even being on the show). And Kara DioGuardi was fired. Just the other day Aerosmith front-man Steven Tyler reportedly agreed to fill in one spot, while Jennifer Lopez is supposedly making outrageous demands to fill in the other.

This here is a music-oriented site, so we at Something Else are selling out providing a public service by reporting on the manufactured drama at AI.

Yeah, right.

We have our opinions on the show and other recent pop phenomenons in the music business, but there's little point in getting into all that on our own. Not when Ethan Keller has already taken the hammer and met the nail square on with this topic. A few months back, Keller unfurled his second full CD and we made a little noise about the lead off track, but lately with the comings and goings of Fox Network's hit talent show even encroaching on my pop culture-averse attention span, another song of his has edged upon my mind a lot more.

“Fallen Idol" makes an impression before the first lyric is sung: possessing the melodic trait of the Stone Temple Pilots and a dope Steely Dan chord progression, “Idol" was mixed and mastered by Keller himself instead of the album's Grammy-winning producer Ted Greenberg. But it still sounds tight to me.

“Reach high...though you know you'll fall below. Never give up, never let the dream die, get to the top don't stop 'till you hit sky..."

Jesse Warner's drum breaks that start the song and the relaxed groove that follows it is head-nodding good stuff, but the message Keller is singing soon afterwards induces the “I agree" kind of head nodding. As Keller himself succinctly puts it, “'Fallen Idol' is inspired by the loathsome nature of today's pop culture, and contains several stories of tragedy," using the popular TV show as a symbol of what is not right about what is encouraged to our kids and what they are told what the American Dream is. It's a false dream one that is hopelessly elusive, mass produced, and operates outside of a moral framework.

“Young girl approaches the mic but don't know what it means. Small boy strums a guitar, but he can't feel the strings..."

Maybe the musicians who worked the hardest on their craft never got most of the biggest breaks even back in the day, but it appears even less so now. Sure, there are great singers and prodigal players right there on prime time television, but is this skill borne of the parent-financed private lessons or the school of hard knocks that working musicians go through? Playing with conviction and feel doesn't come from sterile environments.

“Old maid moans on a mic, her voice is rich and poor. Old man holds his guitar and leaps from the 21st floor..."

As with politicians, we love to build showbiz people up only to tear them down, and get off on watching real-life success turn into failures. Note how many reality-based programs are set up that way. Observes Keller, “In the end, the media loves the drama and the tragedies themselves become glorified and judged by how viral it goes on Youtube or how many 'likes' it generates on Facebook."

“The rock star exits stage right, cuz he can't dance no more."

It's not always true that aging rock stars leave the business because they “can't dance no more"; evidently some of them like possibly Mr. Tyler and Ms. Lopez simply move on to judge aspiring fallen idols... - All about jazz


“Best known as Milwaukee’s Wonderkid band leader… Ethan Keller shows off a groovy combination of hip hop, jazz & rock, with melodic lines and witty lyrics … Young and old alike enjoy his contemporary sound…” - City Pages (Wausau, WI) - City Pages (Wausau, WI)


“Keller has latently and outwardly taken on religious matters through his music channeling the spiritual through hazy jazz numbers… The effect is having a perfect storefront for the outlay of all the personal and interpersonal that make up the all tightest dramas… All of the self-analysis he's been putting into his new material has allowed him a closer connection with audiences…”Quad City Times (Rock Island, IL) - Quad City Times (Rock Island, IL)


Face Light is an optimistic and funk-filled ride through poetic exploration, religious inquiry and meandering guitars... flows fluidly from groovy, scat tracks to soulful rock songs, never faltering or losing sight of Keller's inherent sense of his own style.



“His music is difficult to categorize, mixing folk, funk and jazz into his first solo album, Face Light, that he's been working on since 2004. His music spawned a different sound, and more meaningful to his audience.” - MKE Magazine (Milwaukee, WI)


“Keller is equally adept at delivering finger-snapping acoustic ballads and old school boogie. Raw enough for the garage band aficionado, but slick enough for the tech-head, there is not of whiff of pretension on this project. If there is a soundtrack for a convertible Mustang driving down Highway 1, this just might be it. Light and funky, but with enough meat to keep you chewing, Face Light, is the cure for the back-to-school blues.”


"poised to rock the conventional boat of pop music… a versatile blend… at the forefront of a movement that will put Milwaukee on the national radar screen” - Shepherd Express (Milwaukee, WI)


“Inventive and refreshing… an electric, elastic concoction of sass and soul… cops a dark after hours glow to its bop, but mostly a hop, skip, and a jump down a sunny road, always full of energy and brimming with confidence.” - Maximum Ink (Madison, WI)


“Unpretentious, fresh & sent out positive energy” - Rocktober magazine (Chicago, IL)


It's hard to believe there's music like this coming out of Wisconsin… labels shouldn't apply to some groups… a lot to say in funky tracks… gently massages the temples…" - (MusicDish E-zine)


Milwaukee, WI – March 27, 2010:
Wisconsin singer-songwriter and national touring artist, Ethan Keller, is set to release a new record, on April 23rd at Club Timbuktu in Milwaukee, WI. Produced by two-time Grammy winner, Ted Greenberg (G. Love, Ben Harper, Chaka Khan), the upcoming release, Profit, was recorded at fellow Milwaukeean Willy Porter’s downtown studio.

Ethan Keller performs at brewing companies, jazz clubs, and hippy fests, so you might not guess he is a practicing Catholic. His father is an ordained priest (who in fact attended seminary with Milwaukee Civil Rights activist, Fr. James Groppi), and his mother was a nun at one time as well. Confirmed in 2004, Ethan has had personal correspondences with long-time Milwaukee Archbishop, now Archbishop of New York, Timothy Dolan.

The Ethan Keller Group debuted in 2004, and was a finalist in Shepherd Express‘s Band Slam Royale in 2007. Since then, Keller has toured mostly solo around the Midwest and east coast, however, in 2010, Keller will be performing with a full 6-10-piece band.

Admission for the record release party will be $10 at the door; doors open at 6:30pm. Club Timbuktu is located at 520 E. Center St. in Milwaukee, WI. For more information visit
- E Keller


NEW SINGLE "Goin Down in History, Goin Down in Flames" - release date Feb 12, 2013

"Profit" (Apr 2010)
"One Way" (july 2008)
"Face Light " (sept 2006)

"The Scenic Route EP" (2003)
"Random Acts" (2000)
"Don't 4 get 2 get d0wn" (1998)



Ethan Keller is a singer-songwriter from Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He was voted Best Solo Artist in the 2011 Milwaukee Music Awards, and Best Pop Artist in the 2011 Wisconsin Area Music Industry (WAMI) Awards.

The founder and former front-man of Wisconsin's eclectic funk-rock outfit, The Green Scene (named "America's Best Unsigned Band" in Jim Beam's 2001 National Rock Band Search), Ethan still produces many blends of original music, and tours coast to coast. Keller has been performing and promoting since 1993, has appeared at prestigious venues and music festivals in over 30 states, and has sold over 10,000 albums.

Over the years, Ethan has supported a myriad of artists: Rusted Root, Umphreys McGee, Milky Chance, Grupo Fantasma, Medeski Scofield Martin & Wood, James McCartney, Kandace Springs, Glenn Tillbrook, Willy Porter, Erin McKeown, Fareed Haque, Danny and The Juniors, Hanson, Bif Naked, The Exies, Crown City Rockers, Citizen King, Better Than Ezra, Lucky Boys Confusion, Night Ranger, Third Eye Blind, The Lost Trailers, and NEEDTOBREATHE.

Keller’s 2010 EP Profit, was co-produced by Grammy-winner Ted Greenberg ("Standing in the Shadows of Motown"), and has aired on over 300 radio stations across the U.S. Keller's full-length album Goin Down in History, Goin Down in Flames, was released in 2013 on Driftless Records. Ethan’s recordings are currently in rotation at WYMS 88.9 Radio Milwaukee