WHO: Keller Williams
WHERE: GLC, Monday, April16
WHERE: WSSF Mainstage, Tuesday, April 17, 3 p.m.
A Man and His Machine: not a headline that youd think would pack the house. But take one listen to Keller Williams and his ground-breaking use of a loop machine, and youll understand why audiences are beginning to follow him across the continent.
Williams has been enjoying success as a solo-artist since the early 90s. His mastery of the 10 string guitar was obvious from an early age. And despite his youth, his vocals are smoky and articulate, sometimes compared to James Taylor. His song writing is wise and complex, taking you on a different journey with each listen. And with the addition of a little technology, Williams has become a musical fascination and creative force.
"I guess about the winter time of 97 I started using a different machine than what I have now," says Williams of how he came to pair-up with his "jam man" looping machine. "At the time it wasnt the right machine to be using. I was just trying to make it to do what I wanted. It was definitely difficult. The machine I have now is much easier to use."
The most important thing to remember as you sit and listen to Williams play is that despite the fact it sounds like there are two, three and even four musicians on stage, its just Williams. And despite that youll hear Williams voice and guitar used in two, three and even four different ways in one song nothing is pre-recorded. Make sense?
Heres how Williams is using a simple looping machine like no one else: He may begin by singing the first verse of a song and then break away into a simple little bridge. But with the touch of his foot, he records those 8 to 16 bars of the bridge, continues on with the song, and all of a sudden hes got harmony. Williams cleverly continues that cycle until hes layered, harmony, bass, percussion, trumpet (an amazing technique called mouth fluegling) and whatever other improvisations might strike him. If you close your eyes, youll hear what sounds like a full band. Open your eyes, theres just one man and his guitar.
"I started messing around (with the looping) out of sheer boredom. It was cool and it was more," he laughs. "Thats the only way I can explain it. It was just more. For me wanting to create music and to play solos overtop of my own work. And I wanted to be able to improvise. It keeps me a lot more interested and focused when Ive got a challenge in front of me, that being setting up a loop and have it being in time, and having the levels all right."