By: Mary Ellen Aldrich, Arts & Culture Editor
On Saturday, Oct. 7, Aura in downtown Portland will welcome Keller Williams, a one man band. Williams uses a loop pedal and an acoustic guitar to create his “acoustic dance music” (ADM). Tying in notes of rock, bluegrass, funk, free jazz and electronica, Williams creates a complex sound that energizes and captivates his audience. Having recently been listed alongside Katy Perry, Harry Styles and The Weeknd by Entertainment Weekly as one of the top fall concerts to attend, Williams’ performance is expected to be a fantastic one.
Williams is a self taught musician and combines different instruments to create his songs. When Williams is on stage, everything is fresh and real, everything is a ‘take-one’ and there’s no pre-recording. While most people would want to ensure that everything was perfect before stepping out on stage, Keller Williams takes a more improv kind of approach. In some of his live recordings he’s stopped mid-song and said “that’s not how it goes” and proceeded to restart as if nothing happened.
Williams’ first album, FREEK was released in 1994. His most recent two albums, RAW and SYNC follow his trend of having monosyllabic names which sum up the focus of the album. Keller Williams started out as an independent artist in the early 90’s and has been ignoring the boundaries of music genres ever since. He strives to create a unique sound that he enjoys with the hope that his audience will enjoy it as well. Williams didn’t want to get involved with automatic sequencers yet still didn’t want to go solo with the guitar forever. One of Williams’ other albums, DREAM, is dedicated solely to recording Williams’ music with bands and artists whom he looks up to and admires for their talent.
The variation in Williams’ music causes the listener to stop and think beyond ‘that’s a cool song’ and moving on, but instead ‘what is this guy up to?’ and sticking around to figure it out. There are so many tastes of different genres in his music, including a slightly acapella component at some points during some of his songs. The variation in his music can likely be attributed to Williams’ many travels and experiences that range from solo-ing it, to working with former Grateful Dead drummers, to The Travelin’ McCourys to a husband-wife duo known as The Keels. Working with these and other artists has lead Williams to produce albums and singles ranging across genres from folk, to bluegrass, funk, hip-hop, alternative, free jazz and even rock.
The one-man-jam-band is so eclectic that people from different backgrounds, generations and taste in music can all find something of interest within Williams’ performance. His music sometimes contains some tongue-in-cheek mention of politics or other matters, showing his humor but not always revealing his view on the matter. In several of his recording sessions he does away with shoes and plays barefoot. He doesn’t appear to be a man easily swayed by the popular opinion, in neither his music, nor his style choices.
Keller Williams’ music is the type of music that can be put on for studying, dancing, jamming out or hanging with friends. Usually people don’t see music as being a one-size-fits-all, Keller Williams has gotten it pretty close. His show Saturday night should draw in a crowd as diverse as his music. Although Williams has worked with bands and groups, and even started up a few of his own, he always seems to go back to his original solo act. Williams’ has written many of his own songs, but also enjoys covers and has an entire album, called Thief, that is dedicated to covers. He’s covered many bands and artists, including The Grateful Dead, Pink Floyd, Bee Gees, Cage the Elephant, AC/DC and many more.
Keller Williams’ show on October 7th is certainly looking to be an event worth attending. He’ll finish his show in New Hampshire on Friday, and then after his Saturday performance here, Williams will be headed to Vermont, Arkansas, Montana and several other states in the U.S. before the end of his tour in January where he’ll perform in Miami, Florida. Anyone interested in buying tickets to his performance in Portland, Maine or anywhere else can visit https://kellerwilliams.net/shows/ and for more information about Williams and his music journey, visit http://alleyesmedia.com/clients/keller-williams/.