Keller Williams plays Riverwalk on Saturday
April 16, 2009
Keller Williams, known as an innovative one-man jam band, has built a career on his magical ability to captivate crowds all by himself. He’s set to perform Saturday at 4:30 p.m. for Breckenridge’s Spring Massive Festival at the Riverwalk Center.
“It’s a free show ” it don’t cost nothin,” Williams said. All ages are welcome.
Williams is a master of improvisational performance art ” he moves from guitar to bass to percussion stations, using looping effects to layer sound over sound until a full-blown composition is created. He’ll likely have five guitars on stage Saturday, but at bigger shows he has up to 25, and “we litter the stage with all
kinds of instruments.”
“That came from hours and hours of playing by myself with a guitar and microphone,” Williams said. ” … I always want to have a dance vibe. I came pretty close without the looping technology.”
Looping effects opened doors for Williams, and people started buying his tickets ” now he plays more than 100 shows a year.
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Known for performing in his bare feet, William’s explained: “I can’t play with shoes on, especially with what I’m doing with looping. The pedals are sensitive. If I wear shoes, I could step on two at once.”
His feet have turned into a musical tool ” “I use my big toe as a finger,” he said.
When asked to describe his music as a tangible item, Williams said: “It would be one of those inflatable moon-walks ” because you can bounce around on it, lay on it and
it’s conformable. You can stab it and deflate it, you could take off your shoes and run around inside of it, close your eyes and fall back on it, you can be a kid in it, do flips in it, or you could sit outside of it and just watch.”
Williams has an unquenchable thirst for all genres of music ” bluegrass, jazz, hard rock, Afro-beats …
“I want to hear things I’ve never heard before ” that’s the phase I’m
in now,” Williams said. “I have an unhealthy fascination with music.”
So, he tunes into online radio, Sirius, anything that’s playing something new he can listen to.
Electronic music has also influenced his shows over the last few years. Williams said he likes to create samples on stage, and he shifts things in and out like a DJ would do.
Williams terms his own music as “solo acoustic jazz funk reggae techno grass, or you could just say acoustic dance music” it’s an easy definition at the airport.”
Becoming a solo artist came about naturally for Williams.
“I just wanting to play songs on a stool, whether it be for money, dinner or tips,” he said.
In music groups during high school and college, he’d go back to the same places and work as a solo musician when his bands split up.
And then he began touring regionally ” he’s from Fredericksburg, Va., ” in the early 1990s.
“In 1993, I gave up on any kind
of day job,” he said. “I pretty much went full force.”
Williams moved to Steamboat in 1995, and he traveled around Colorado, playing at various locales, including the Gold Pan Saloon in Breckenridge.
After hooking up with the String Cheese Incident, he toured with them, starting in spring 1997.
Opening for them gave him much-needed national exposure.
William’s day gig is his “solo thing,” and playing in bands are his side projects ” he sometimes performs with Grateful Grass, Keller, Moseley, Droll and Sipe, or Grunge Grass, to name a few.
“I’m extremely grateful to have a stage and have people sing along,” Williams said. “I just go where they tell me to go and I feel very lucky to do so.”
Caitlin Row can be reached at (970) 668-4633 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.