Two Nights of Keller Williams

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Keller Williams, a multi-talented artist from Washington, D.C., played solo sets two nights in a row at the Pour House on Thursday and Friday of last week. I got to make it to Friday night, and I wasn’t expecting to see one of the most interesting shows I’ve been to in a while. Williams showcased his variety of talents through looping, experimenting with different instruments and sounds, and mixing original material with unique covers like Daft Punk’s “Doin’ It Right.” His nickname, the “one-man jam-band,” finally made sense after witnessing his use of live looping and layering with several instruments. He played alone on stage with an acoustic guitar connected to a Gibson Echoplex delay system that allows him to simulate a full band. At one point (and I’m still not sure how he did it), he was playing the guitar and it sounded like a flute. During another song, I looked up and saw him playing some sort of electric harmonica, but then he was playing it like a touchpad synthesizer. This high-tech equipment paired with his looping abilities allowed him to travel in a natural progression all over the genre map from funk to reggae, jazz to bluegrass, and even electronica. For the second half of the set, he brought to the stage some backup support, with a drummer and an upright bass player.

 

The crowd was enthralled as they watched K-Dub in action, waiting to see what he was going to morph his sound and environment into next. Forever adapting, I loved all the sounds that Keller Williams put out there, particularly the reggae-infused song “Rub-a-Dub,” which he incorporated into his cover of “Eyes of the World” by the Grateful Dead. He also covered one of my top 10 Talking Heads songs, “This Must Be The Place,” followed by one of his many originals, “People Watchin’,” off his 2007 album Dream. The novelty and simplicity of his solo set was definitely a showcase of his individual talent, especially because of his incorporation of singing, beatboxing, and whistling. The unpredictable Keller Williams is sure to impress in other cities nationwide on his 2015 tour as he continues to develop and warp crowds’ ideas of what is musically possible.