Tuesday, March 06, 2007

The one man show: Keller Williams

Usually when you picture one man on stage with a guitar, you imagine a smoky dive with a guy playing acoustic covers of popular songs. To think that one man could fill an entire theater with a sound that carries the weight of a four man group is hard to imagine. Enter Keller Williams.

Sunday night I was fortunate enough to catch Keller play at the Calvin Theatre in Northampton, MA. The stage was set up as if a group of musicians would be manning all of the instruments. There was a keyboard set up, four different microphones, and two guitars (one of them a bass) perched on stands similar to microphone stands. Instead of a group though, Keller was the only one to take the stage.

What followed was a singing, guitar strumming, bass thumping, beat-boxing, whistling, keyboard playing, non-stop, one man show. Keller's energy, exuberance, and instrumentational skill were evident from the beginning as he proceeded to jam seamlessly from one song to the next with no breaks to catch his breath in between. Using looping techniques Keller would slowly piece together a song layer by layer and then strip them away to build up into something else.

Although I describe Keller as a one man show, technically speaking that was not entirely correct this evening. At one point in the evening he was joined by Martin Sexton, who provided a guest appearance on Keller's latest album Dreams (read about it here). The due proceeded to play tracks from Keller's repertoire as well a few of Martin's songs.

Above the proceedings was an oval screen which reminded me of the mirror from Snow White. On it played psychedelic swirls and kaleidoscopic images interwoven with footage from a camera which focused on Keller and later Martin. All in all, it was quite amazing to see, and hear, such complicated compositions being built right in front of my eyes and ears.

See him on one of his upcoming concert dates.

Keller Williams (with Martin Sexton) - Rainy Day : Dreams

Keller Williams - Crispy Critters : Live at Horning's Hideout, North Plains, OR 6-20-04

Martin Sexton - Freedom of the Road
: Austin City Limits Music Collection 2003

Visit Keller's website, his label SCI Fidelity Records, and become his friend on MySpace.

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