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Interview:
Keller Williams at Otus Supply, 3 Things To Know
 

By Gary Graff
ggraff@digitalfirstmedia.com, @GraffonMusic on Twi

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Keller Williams is, at face value, a guy with a guitar. But there’s much more to it than that.

The 47-year-old Virginia native is both virtuoso and songwriting melodicist. He primarily works alone but has been a member of notable bands such as the Grateful Dead spin-off the Rhythm Devils, Grateful Grass Keller Williams Incident with the String Cheese Incident, Keller & the Keels and Kdubalicious. And he’s busy; Last year alone Williams released two albums, the dance-flavored “Sync” and the stripped-down “Raw.”

Nearly 25 years since his first album, Williams sounds like he’s just getting started...

• Williams’ “day job” is solo shows during which he employs loops on which he builds his performances. Others have followed suit -- most notably pop star Ed Sheeran -- but Williams acknowledges by phone that he “was on the ground floor. Looping itself is nothing new; I mean (bassist0 Jaco Pastorious did it back in ‘79, ‘80, ‘81, around there. But I like to think I gave people inspiration, like, ‘Hell, if he can do it...’ The Ed Sheeran thing is fun to watch someone on his level doing it. That makes me feel good.”

• Williams’ next release will be an instrumental album he hopes to release during the spring. “It’s pretty much done on my part,” he reports. “I did all the parts -- guitar, bass and a lot of the drum sampling. I’m definitely looking at an acoustic kind of thing, walking the line of dance music. There are a lot of instrumental songs I’ve been playing for years that have never seen a bass line or a drum part, so I’ve been digging into the technology with my engineer to make some interesting beats, both electronic and natural sounding, and some really interesting samples we can manipulate in certain ways. I’m taking a page out of the producer and DJ book but actually having acoustic instruments as well.”

• Williams is also planning to do more with PettyGrass this year, a performance of the late Tom Petty’s songs done bluegrass style, in collaboration with the Hillbenders. The troupe plans to make several festival appearances this year, though Williams doesn’t anticipate recording any of the material. “Tom Petty was a huge force in songwriting,” Williams says. “Without owning any of his records I could probably sing you 10 Tom Petty songs back to front. That’s the impact head, at least on me, growing up. It’s a real kick to do these amazingly well-crafted yet simple songs in a celebratory bluegrass fashion with these high-quality musicians. I get to be the singer and the Hillbenders, I think, are going to take the project to the next level. I think people are going to react positively.”



If You Go:

• Keller Williams

• 7:30 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 14

• Otus Supply, 345 E. Nine Mile Road, Ferndale.

• Tickets are $30.

• Call 248-291-6160 or visit otussupply.com.

Web Site: www.otussupply.com

Send your thoughts and comments to Gary Graff

 



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