Music News

Critic's Choice

Keller Williams debunks the theory that jam groups have to include multiple-musician lineups. With his live, one-man show, Williams -- who appears Saturday, March 29, at the Paramount Theatre -- has the unique ability to kindle the same brand of exploratory magic manifested by artists such as Medeski, Martin and Wood, and Phish. Capitalizing on technology, Williams creates rhythmic sound loops, then plays along with the sampled grooves using a host of instruments, which include any of the eight guitars that encircle him on stage. Sometimes compared to Leo Kottke and the late Michael Hedges, Williams, who favors a ten-string guitar (in a variety of tunings), also makes use of a theramin, a drum kit, pipe tubes and a mouth flugel. He also whistles, makes intriguing noises with his kisser, and he even operates his own soundboard; you have to wonder what the guy might do with his nose or elbows when his hands are full. Snappy hooks, a variety of technologically enhanced rootsy material and a high-wire sense of adventure mark his shows, which often include covers of bands such as the Allman Brothers, the Grateful Dead, Coldplay and Queen, as well as a healthy salting of his own compositions. Williams is touring in support of his companion releases Laugh and Dance (both on SCI Fidelity Records). Laugh contains a playful cover of Ani DiFranco's "Freakshow" and a soulful version of Hedges's "Spring Buds," while Dance is a digital remix of tracks from Laugh, created with a computer. Let the freakshow begin.
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Nick Hutchinson writes about music for Westword and enjoys playing his guitar when not on deadline.
Contact: Nick Hutchinson