Music » Critics' Picks

Keller Williams

Friday, April 4; Pageant


In the tie-dyed world of the jam-band nation, guitarist/vocalist Keller Williams has carved out a unique niche as a solo performer. But the music he creates on stage is light-years removed from the usual singer/songwriter sound. Armed with his customized ten-string guitar, a backup arsenal of seven additional guitars and a ton of electronic equipment, Williams builds layers of sound and then improvises solos on top of those looped tracks. For example, he might begin a tune by using his Lexicon Jam Man -- a device made famous by Victor Wooten of Béla Fleck's Flecktones -- to create a tape loop of a bass line and then augment it with percussion looped off a minimal drum kit that he's set up onstage. As that tape loop plays back, Williams creates a full-band sound by layering on guitar riffs and trombone and trumpet sounds generated by his unique mouth flügel. Add his quirky, clever lyrics (ranging from the off-center humor of "Kidney in a Cooler" to "Bob Rules," a tribute to the Price Is Right game-show host), and you've got a compelling, innovative performance that's won over audiences from small clubs and concert halls to major festivals such as Bonnaroo.

Williams brings his jaw-dropping one-man-band approach to the Pageant on Friday. If you're already a fan, you grabbed your tickets long ago. If you're not yet a Williams or jam-band devotee but enjoy top-notch players such as Leo Kottke or the late Michael Hedges, check out this show for a fresh new perspective on guitar magic.

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