Ethan Keller is a singer-songwriter from Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He was voted Solo Artist of the Year in the 2011 Radio Milwaukee Music Awards, and Pop Artist of the Year in the 2011 Wisconsin Area Music Industry (WAMI) Awards.
Ethan produces many blends of original music, often melding folk, blues, and rock, with funk, jazz, and hip-hop. He has been performing and promoting for over 20 years, has appeared at 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 was the founder and 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).
Keller’s 2010 EP Profit, was co-produced by Grammy-winner Ted Greenberg ("Standing in the Shadows of Motown"), and has aired on 100s of radio stations across the U.S. Ethan’s music is currently in rotation at WYMS 88.9 Radio Milwaukee.
Ethan's latest album "Carried Away" is out on Driftless Records (10.20.17)
The Pabst Theater (Milwaukee, WI) The Northern Lights Theater (Milwaukee, WI) The Miramar Theater (Milwaukee, WI) The Gothic Theater (Denver, CO) The Roseland Theater (Portland, OR)
Lincoln Auditorium (Chicago, IL) The Hard Rock Cafe (Chicago, IL) The Hard Rock Cafe (Phoenix, AZ) The Hard Rock Cafe (Newport Beach, CA) The Hard Rock Cafe (San Diego, CA) The Hard Rock Cafe (Los Angeles, CA) The Whisky a Go-Go (Los Angeles, CA)
Shank Hall (Milwaukee, WI) The Red Lion (New York, NY) The Rio Hotel (Las Vegas, NV) The Pfister Hotel (Milwaukee, WI)
The Iron Horse Hotel (Milwaukee, WI)
The Four Seasons Hotel (Seattle, WA)
The Grand Traverse Resort (Acme, MI)
The Grand Kabaret (New Ulm, MN) The Rave (Milwaukee, WI)
The Tractor (Seattle, WA) The Canopy Club (Urbana, IL) The Excalibur Club (Chicago, IL) The Turf Club (St. Paul, MN)
The 9.30 Club (Washington D.C.)
The 8x10 (Baltimore, MD) The Soiled Dove (Denver, CO) The Cabooze (Minneapolis, MN)
The Cornerstone (Galena, IL)
Martyr's (Chicago, IL)
Piano's (New York, NY) Cicero's (St. Louis, MO)
Gabe's (Iowa City, IA)
Union Street Station (Traverse City, MI) Port Cape (Cape Girardeau, MO)
Harpers Ferry (Boston, MA)
John’s Alley (Moscow, ID) Nectar's (Burlington, VT)
Rusty Nail (Stowe, VT)
Two Brothers (Middlebury, VT)
Lakefront Brewery (Milwaukee, WI)
Milwaukee Ale House (Milwaukee, WI)
Ale Asylum (Madison, WI)
3 Sheeps Brewing Co. (Sheboygan, WI)
7 Hills Brewing Co. (Dubuque, IA)
Minocqua Brewing Co. (Minocqua, WI) Founder's Brewery (Grand Rapids, MI)
Bell’s Brewery (Kalamazoo, MI)
New Holland Brewery (New Holland, MI)
Bullfrog Brewery (Williamsport, PA)
Rock Island Brewing Co. (Rock Island, IL)
Sun Valley Brewing Co. (Hailey, ID)
Icicle Brewing Co. (Leavenworth, WA)
Lewis and Clark Brewing Co. (Helena, MT)
New World Brewing Co. (Tampa, FL)
Vagabond Brewing Co. (Salem, OR)
Capitol Cider (Seattle, WA)
Twisted Path Distillery (Milwaukee, WI) Summerfest (Milwaukee, WI)
Bastille Days (Milwaukee, WI)
Wisconsin State Fair (Milwaukee, WI)
Waukesha County Fair (Waukesha, WI)
Racine County Fair (Union Grove, WI)
Milwaukee International Film Festival (Milwaukee, WI)
Summer Soulstice (Milwaukee, WI)
Chill on the Hill (Milwaukee, WI)
Concerts on the Square (Wausau, WI)
Metro Jam (Manitowoc, WI)
Riverfest (Waukesha, WI)
Freeport Music Fest (Port Washington, WI)
Party in the Park (Stevens Point, WI)
River Festival (Wisconsin Rapids, WI)
Port Fish Day (Port Washington, WI)
EAA Air Museum (Oshkosh, WI)
Bloomin Days (Kenosha, WI)
Octoberfest (New Glarus, WI)
Potosi Brewfest (Potosi, WI)
Sawdust Days (Oshkosh, WI)
Holland Festival (Cedar Grove, WI)
Jam for Jam (Sullivan, WI)
Dunegrass Music Fest (Empire, MI)
Friday Night Live (Traverse City, MI)
Solstice Festival (Elberta, MI)
Rootenanny (Ellsworth, MI)
Independence Day (Frankfort, MI)
Independence Day (Sheboygan, WI)
Heritage Fest (Downers Grove, IL)
Taste of Colorado (Denver, CO)
Tomato Romp (Milwaukee, WI)
Alive at Five (Helena, MT)
University of Wisconsin (Manitowoc, WI) Carroll University (Waukesha, WI) Northland College (Ashland, WI) Northern Illinois University (DeKalb, IL) North Central University (Naperville, IL) Knox College (Galesburg, IL) Triton College (River Grove, IL) Hanover College (Hanover, IN) Iowa State University (Ames, IA)
Kent State University (Kent, OH) Boston College (Boston, MA) North Carolina State University (Raleigh, NC) Belmont Abbey College (Belmont, NC) Official Music Conference Showcases: National Association for Campus Activities (NACA) - 1998 - Salt Lake City, UT
Millennium Music Conference (MMC) - 2002, 2003, 2005, 2012 - Harrisburg, PA Emerging Artists and Talent in Music (EAT-M) - 1999 - Las Vegas, NV Music Fest Northwest (MFNW) - 2001 - Portland, OR South by Southwest (SXSW) - 2002 - Austin, TX Nemo Music Conference (NEMO) - 2002 - Boston, MA
Ethan Keller (Contributor at The Good Men Project)
(Originally published August 17, 2014 at The Good Men Project)
Truly, a week at church camp is one of the most intellectually, physically, spiritually and emotionally draining experiences anyone can experience. The mere idea of “Jesus-camp” frightens kids and parents alike. Moreover, it can humble all counselors & staff. It can petrify any administrator or program director.
In my 5-year absence from camp, I endured divorce, and other pains. My father, who was a Franciscan monk and Catholic priest, just died this January. My brightest light in a dark tunnel has been my son, who turned 5 this May. When the Congregationalist camp director asked me to be a counselor, I immediately said “yes.” I love expanding young peoples faiths, but I also knew I would be receiving much needed respite. Kids are sometimes like sages & soothing soothsayers. Church camp brings to life a prayer of Jesus, that things can be “hidden from the wise & intelligent and revealed to little children.” (Matthew 11:25).
Here’s some background on me: I’ve been blessed to do music fulltime, more or less, for almost 20 years. My original compositions are my diaries of a crazy life, from struggles with drugs to the ecstasy of & letdowns of love interests. I’ve explored the melancholy of jail cells & heady self-inflicted solitudes. I write about the tranquility of traveling and celebrating connections between humans & communities. But I also deal with rejection and public humiliation. I’ve literally broken leg and arm bones at gigs, each in silly, stupid ways. I flail and fail spectacularly, and testify about mid-life crises on a microphone over melodies. In the worst ways I’ve become my own victim of theological pomposity, utter head-in-the-clouds oblivion, total detachment and existential boredom.
Sometimes I barely remain afloat, spiritually. When I’m not being a soloist wallflower, I still attempt to masquerade as the audacious rock star in bright lights, while simultaneously playing the inspiration for the church youth group (seriously, sometimes in the same tour). I do all of this in the memory that I live in both the shadows and lights cast by the cross of Christianity that I bear. It is a cross totally impossible for me to discard, even if I desired to.
I’m often in awe why people wish to hear me sing or speak, and often go simply where I’m invited and/or where hospitable people help me feel more “at home.” I often feel like a ridiculous “TV preacher” slash “game-show host.” My dad preached “revivals.” Hmm. So be it. Come on down! I just can’t guarantee anyone anything; I’m just as starving as that hungry church camp kid and my life is no shining example of anything yet. Most days, I do not feel like any sort of “beacon” for Christ.
Perhaps I’m an omen (or harbinger) for others. Perhaps like St. Paul, I lost my old identity, so now I try to be everything to everyone, and have no clue where I am going next until the path is illuminated. And when I get to the next destination, I still hold a door open for others. Then I can always say, “Welcome home.”
My dad once lived with The Venerable Solanus Casey of Detroit. Church leadership did not fully ordain Casey, so he became the doorman. Like Solanus Casey, or my father, or Jesus, or a young woman director of church camp, it is precisely that holding the door open for others that proves we’re all “aliens & sojourners, as were all our ancestors.” Transients who walk into your life, or wander onto ‘our’ land, should be welcomed because all “our days on earth are like a passing shadow — soon gone without a trace.” (1 Chronicles 29:15). Similar language is found in the Bible that ‘land’ is not ours, (Leviticus 25:23), depending on translation, using words like: aliens, strangers, sojourners, tenants, and yes, even ‘immigrants. ‘
My dad used to scoff at insensitive attitudes towards immigration prevalent among some Christians in the United States. I recall him saying, “We’re all immigrants,” on more than one occasion. Today those words seem to allude not so much to how our ancestors came to this land, but to a deeper, more forgiving, welcoming & compassionate attitude towards new arrivals.
Don’t you often feel “inexperienced” or feel like an “out-of-towner?” Worse yet, you feel like a local that doesn’t belong where you are? Perhaps worst yet, did you ever get that feeling like the community surrounding you doesn’t love you, and is happy to see you leave rather than embrace you? Would you isolate yourself?
One of the main rules at church camp is to make new campers feel welcome. We reassure children at church camp that they are unique, they are loved, and they are “not alone in feeling alone.” Then we try to affirm that an all-knowing, all-powerful & all-loving God is big enough to reach everyone. Personally, I must believe that; otherwise, a fundamental brick of my faith would be weak. “Have we not all one father?” (Malachai 2:10).
Diversity is beautiful and emblematic of God’s gorgeous thirst for variety. Indeed, in sacred stories of many cultures it’s eloquently purported that the Creator loves variety, and made humans diverse so we can come to know one another. Why do we as humans fear other cultures and write them off as “unwelcome strangers?”
We each can feel like that ignorant backwoods yokel, or oblivious suburban child, or hardened city-kid, each who grew up in his or her own sheltered corner of the world. Our experiences are original and priceless, but overall somewhat shallow in and of themselves, and we should try cutting each other some slack instead of cutting each others' throats.
We didn’t talk about terrorism and children dying in Gaza at Jesus Camp. We were not exposed to news of ISIS crucifying folks in Mosul, destroying priceless artifacts & ancient communities. I only briefly mentioned my recent role in the fight against “mascotry." How do I stand on a continent apparently so proud of its successful genocidal history and not call out domestic terrorists here as much as the international ones? And would I dare relay those heavy to implications to children in the context of Jesus promising His “burden is light?”
We’re all scared, restless travelers, sometimes vehemently guarding temporary shelters, and hoarding things we hold sacred. But God works thousands of miracles, often utilizing the most lowly & lost. And we are all “lost” in some sense. We’re all “wanderers.” We are all aliens.