Williams brings multi-layered solo show to V Club on Saturday
A day before he performs on the Mountain Stage radio program in Charleston, Keller Williams will perform make a stop in Huntington.
He will perform Saturday, Nov. 2 at the V Club, 641 7th Ave .
The Virginia native, who is known for playing a variety of music from bluegrass to funk to jamband, is known for tapping into many of those genres in his multi-faceted solo performances.
These days, the use of a looping device is widespread in the music world. The gadget allows a solo performer to play a groove on an instrument, and then a button is hit so that the just-played sound is recorded, repeated and sustained. Then, on top of the initial riff that is heard, other layers are added on so that the artist can sing and play solos while surrounded by a full complement of layered melodies and harmonies.
Williams has been using loops long before the current popularity of the technology. “It all came from the idea of entertaining myself, really,” said Williams. “I started using loops in 1997, starting out using these weirdo delay rack mounts. Victor Wooten (bass player for Bela Fleck and the Flecktones) then showed me the right stuff to use. At that time, it was the JamMan by Lexicon. They stopped making them, but you can get them on the Internet. Then, right around 1998 and 1999, I incorporated a bass (mounted onstage and looped along with his guitar) and that is when everything started to change. Once the bass hit the loops, that is when people started coming to shows. When that low end entered my sound, that’s when people started moving and listening.” These days, looping technology has improved exponentially. For Williams, more options are available as far as what potential grooves and sounds are possible with various devices.
“The sky is the limit, as far as whatever you can think of, and there are no rules I don’t think,” said Williams. “It’s all about the one beat, all about where your ‘one’ is. If you know where your ‘one’ is and you can hit that button right at the right beat, then it is pretty easy. There are definitely mistakes in every show, and that is a part of the show. There is a lot of improvisation going on and there is a lot of room for error. When there is a happy accident, some people call that jazz (laughing). Every night I take risks, for sure, and try different things to keep myself on top of it instead of settling back into something I do all of the time. I’m constantly trying to do different things whether it is a different kind of loop or timing. It’s the ones that don’t work that make the ones that do work awesome .”
Williams not only creates his own albums, he also records with a variety of established groups producing a range of interesting music. He recorded an album with Tri-State favorites Larry and Jenny Keel called "Keller and the Keels," and also released a project called "Pick" with the Traveling McCourys, which is basically the members of the award-winning bluegrass group the Del McCoury Band without Del.
Williams' latest project is called "Funk," a live album recorded with the group More Than A Little.
"I know that if I played bluegrass all of the time, I would be sad," said Williams. "If I played funk music all of the time, I would be sad. That's just me. That's my own attention deficit disorder that's never been diagnosed. Who knows? But, it takes multiple things to make me happy. Even if I wasn't accepted with these bands and I had to play solo all of the time, then I'd still be doing what I do, which is jumping around from genre to genre. It's just that I am fortunate enough now to have actual humans that allow me into their world to play it with me. So, that's cool. It works for me." When it comes to Williams' solo shows, he tries to mix up his song selection to keep things fresh.
"If it is a venue that I play once a year, I look at the set list from last year and try not to play any of those songs," said Williams. "(Playing solo) is kind of what I call 'the day job.' It's what I do the most, and it is where I am most comfortable. The material is just overflowi ng ."
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