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Williams is one-man ‘jam band’


This article was published January 10, 2013 at 2:39 a.m.

— Keller Williams has given single-syllable word names to all 18 of his albums, which have come out almost annually since 1994: Freek, Buzz, Spun, Breathe, Loop, Laugh, Dance, Home, Stage, Grass, Dream and 12.

And that’s just the first dozen. After that came Rex, Odd, Thief, Kids, Bass and Pick.

“Usually, the names appear during the sessions,” says the eclectic musician, “and they almost name themselves. It’s never a problem figuring out their names.”

Some of the titles are selfexplanatory: Kids, for example, after he had kids of his own and heard the album Not for Kids Only by Jerry Garcia and David Grisman. Among the Kids song titles: “Car Seat,” “Because I Said So,” and “Taking a Bath.”

“My kids are also pretty musical,” Williams proudly notes. “Ella is 8, and she plays piano, and our son, Cabell, 4,has really good pitch. They are definitely musically inclined. And I think they like what their dad does, too.”

Williams, born, raised and still living in Fredericksburg, Va., finds it easier to cite the musical genres of music that didn’t influence him: opera, classical and contemporary country.

He’s coming to Little Rock’s Revolution Room this weekend for a one-man show, singing and playing guitar - his bread-and-butter approach to performing, he explains.

“I’m deeply rooted in the solo acoustic guitar, and I doselections off my many records and some covers. I’m a music lover first, a musician second and a songwriter third. But what I do has a backbeat and a dance focus.

“I don’t use a computer. Nothing is prerecorded. Everything I do is created live onstage. I can be a jam band by myself.”

He does use a host of gadgets onstage to supplement his main tool, a Martin D-28 with a backup synthesizer device hooked to a Gibson Chet Atkins guitar, through which he can create the sounds of keyboard, horns and flutes.

Since he’s flying into Little Rock, he’s limited in the amount of equipment he can bring.

“I might bring a Chinesemade SG acoustic that’s really bizarre,” he says. “It’s something small I can carry on [the plane], and it blows me away. Every guitar has its own personality and they’re all different in some way.”

Keller also performs with the Keels, a husband/wife bluegrass duo, and More Than a Little, a six-piece funk/soul outfit, which, he says, includes “two incredible female singers.”

Then there are the projects he does with the String Cheese Incident, plus a radio show in his hometown and occasional shows with Grateful Dead drummers Bill Kreutzmann and Mickey Hart. He has also worked with Bela Fleck, Victor Wooten, Martin Sexton and the Grateful Dead’s Bob Weir.

“My plans for 2013 are to do lots of solo shows, plus to continue to tour with the Travelin’ McCourys, Del McCoury’s two sons and two other members. My latest album, Pick, is a collaboration with them.”

The album includes originals by Williams plus versions of John Hartford’s “Sexual Harassment,” My Morning Jacket’s “Amazed” and Steve Earle’s “The Graveyard Shift.”

Williams dimly recalls his previous appearance at the Rev Room, a couple of years ago on his birthday (Feb. 4)when he barely got to the venue after having flight problems.

“I think I showed up just as the doors opened,” he says. “But I have played elsewhere in Arkansas, a couple of times at the Mulberry Mountain festival up in the Ozarks.”Keller Williams

9:30 p.m. today , Revolution

Room, 300 President Clin

ton Ave., Little Rock

Opener: None

Tickets: $20

(501) 823-0090

Weekend, Pages 33 on 01/10/2013

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