Port City Music Hall
Keller Williams

An Evening with

Keller Williams

Thu, November 6, 2014

Doors: 8:00 pm / Show: 9:00 pm

Port City Music Hall

Portland, ME

$20 advance / $25 day of show / $45 Preferred Seating

This event is 18 and over

Buy tickets in person at the Cumberland County Civic Center Box Office, charge by phone at 800-745-3000 and online at www.portcitymusichall.com The Port City Music Hall Box Office will be open one hour before doors on night of show

Keller Williams
Keller Williams
Those who’ve followed Keller Williams’ recording career to date know that he has given each of his albums a single-syllable title: FREEK, BUZZ, SPUN, BREATHE, LOOP, LAUGH, HOME, DANCE, STAGE, GRASS, DREAM, TWELVE, REX, LIVE, ODD, THIEF, KIDS, BASS, PICK, KEYS and FUNK. Each title serves not only as a concise summation of the concept guiding the particular project but also as another piece of the jigsaw puzzle that is Keller Williams. GRASS, for example, is a bluegrass recording, cut with the husband-wife duo the Keels. STAGE is a live album and DREAM the end product of a wish list: Keller collaborating with some of his greatest musical heroes. THIEF is a set of unexpected cover songs. And KIDS offers up, you guessed it, Williams’ first and possibly only children’s record.

The naming trend has continued with 2012’s BASS and PICK, respectively a set of songs where Keller plays bass and William’s collaboration with royal bluegrass family The Travelin’ McCourys. In 2013 – Keller released FUNK with his newest collaboration – a six-piece funk outfit – More Than a Little. What all of the titles reveal, when taken together, is an artist of great stylistic breadth and infinite imagination, a singer, songwriter and musician, always on a quest for the new. Keller Williams has never followed the prescribed path laid out by the conventional music business, nor has he taken the prescribed meds laid out by his team of conventional doctors. Instead, he has taken the A.D.D. path (Artistic, Determined, Dedication). It’s a path that has served him quite well.

Since he first appeared on the scene in the early ’90s, Williams has defined the term independent artist. And his recordings tell only half the story. Keller built his reputation initially on his engaging live performances, no two of which are ever alike. For most of his career he has performed solo. His stage shows are rooted around Keller singing his compositions and choice cover songs, while accompanying himself on acoustic guitar. With the use of today’s technology, Keller creates samples on the fly in front of the audience, a technique called live phrase sampling or looping, With nothing pre-recorded, the end result often leans toward a hybrid of alternative folk and groovy electronica. A genre Keller jokingly calls “acoustic dance music” or ADM.”

That approach, Williams explains, was derived from “hours of playing solo with just a guitar and a microphone, and then wanting to go down different avenues musically. I couldn’t afford humans and didn’t want to step into the cheesy world of automated sequencers where you hit a button and the whole band starts to play, then you’ve got to solo along or sing on top of it. I wanted something more organic yet with a dance groove that I could create myself.”

Williams’ solo live shows—and his ability to improvise to his determinedly quirky tunes despite the absence of an actual band—quickly became the stuff of legend, and his audience grew exponentially when word spread about this exciting, unpredictable performer. Once he began releasing recordings, starting with 1994’s FREEK, Williams was embraced by an even wider community of music fans, particularly the jam band crowd. While his live gigs have largely been solo affairs, Williams has nearly always used his albums as a forum for collaborations with fellow musicians. An alliance with The String Cheese Incident on 1999’s BREATHE marked Williams’ first release on the band’s label SCI Fidelity Records, an imprint he still partners with today for recordings. DREAM, Keller’s 2007 release, found him in the company of such iconic musicians as the Grateful Dead’s Bob Weir, banjo master Béla Fleck, bass great Victor Wooten, American musician/poet Michael Franti and many others.

“That album took, from start to release time,” says Williams, “about three years. The object was to get people that I admire musically to play my stuff, so when I’m old I can crank this album in my pimped-out golf cart and have something that I’m really proud of. I was going for the historical effect for my own personal listening pleasure.

“Each record,” he continues, “is a little snapshot of history. I like to think of it as a period piece for an artist. Each record is a little bit different but all of them have some kind of common thread, which is my musical ability as far as I can take it. I enjoy making records. In some people’s eyes, they’re a dying breed, but I’m very passionate about it. They document where my head is at that time in my career and where I am in my songwriting.”

If it seems as if this is a man who never stops, that would be about right. Keller released the amusingly titled THIEF—his all-covers project with the Keels—early in 2010, and KIDS, his sixteenth album, in the fall of that same year. A father of two himself, Williams was, of course, inspired by his own offspring but, he says, some of the songs were written before his children were born. “When Not For Kids Only by Jerry Garcia and David Grisman came out, I knew that there was hope for me with kids music,” he says. “I was really attached to that record.” The songwriting for Kids, Keller says, “was not necessarily singing to the kids. A lot of it was me singing from the perspective of the kids. That was my plan, to get on their wavelength, on their level, and be one of them, so it’s kind of like one of their friends singing to them.”

In 2011, BASS found the multi-instrumentalist only playing bass guitar. BASS was also the first album to be recorded with Keller’s live reggae-funk band Kdubalicious, which in addition to Keller on bass and vocals, features Jay Starling on keyboards and Mark D on drums. On the other end of the spectrum – but just as tasty – is Keller’s 2012 release PICK. This collaboration featuring Keller Williams with The Travelin’ McCourys is a classic case of the whole being greater than the sum of its parts—although the parts are rather massive on their own, to be sure. “Performing with The Travelin’ McCourys is one of my favorite things to do in the world,” Keller explains. “This project has struck a special chord with me [pun intended]. It is very addictive.”

Indeed, Keller always enjoys working with a band. For 2013 he steps out with his newest muse…a 6-piece funk band dubbed More Than a Little. Williams draws from the Richmond, VA R&B/gospel scene including a pair of show stealing female singers. FUNK – a sexy live recording that pays deep homage to the genre’s roots, Keller style – hits streets November 2013.

As if all of this doesn’t keep him busy enough, Keller’s thirst for music of all kinds has also led him to the world of radio. For the past several years he has hosted Keller’s Cellar, a weekly syndicated program available on both terrestrial stations and online at www.kellerwilliams.net. Williams describes the show as “a self-indulgent, hour-long narrated mix tape of stuff I’m into. It’s rule-less except for what the FCC says we can’t do. I don’t play contemporary country music. I don’t play contemporary Christian music—however, there is possibly some old gospel. I don’t play opera. Everything else is fair game. World music from all around—African music from all the countries, jazz, funk, reggae, techno, chill, lounge, lounge singers, rub-a-dub, dancehall. I pretty much stay away from smooth jazz. It’s definitely a fun outlet for me. I’m trying to do something different.”

Something different. That, we can assume, is how it will always be with Keller Williams.
Venue Information:
Port City Music Hall
504 Congress St
Portland, ME, 04101