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The end product is astounding and novel music that encompasses rock, jazz, funk and bluegrass, and always keeps the audience on their feet.
Since he first appeared on the scene in the early ’90s, Williams has defined the term independent artist. Keller built his reputation initially on his engaging live performances, no two of which are ever alike. His stage shows are rooted around Keller singing his compositions and choice cover songs, while accompanying himself on acoustic guitar.
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.
They document where my head is at that time in my career and where I am in my songwriting.” Williams’ story begins in Fredericksburg, Virginia, just south of Washington, D. There he was exposed to a wide variety of music at an early age, starting with country and bluegrass and working his way up through hip-hop and go-go, a brand of funk particular to that part of the country.
Once he began playing guitar, Williams’ sphere expanded to what he calls “the post-pseudo- skateboarder punk-rock rebellious type of thing, Black Flag and Sex Pistols and Ramones, Dead Kennedys, things like that.
GRASS, for example, is a bluegrass recording cut with the husband- wife duo The Keels.
STAGE is a live album, and DREAM is the realization of Keller’s wish to collaborate with some of his musical heroes.
“I studied and learned their music and went to the shows,” he says, adding that the impact of Jerry Garcia on his attitude toward music remains incalculable.Another major influence was Michael Hedges, the late virtuoso acoustic guitarist.“He was really excelling in a whole different world from what I knew,” says Williams.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.“That album took, from start to release time,” says Williams, “about three years.