Keller Williams | Paramount Theatre | Denver, CO | 03.29.03

Keller Williams is a magician. Yes, he is a masterful musician, but his ability to create sound is an art only comparable to feats of pure wizardry. Keller’s one man act at the historic Paramount Theatre in downtown Denver left me buzzing from his affable story-telling and uncanny ability to seemingly pull music out of a hat (or at least his electronic "looping" technology).

At first glance, Keller’s stage lends the impression that a 10-piece band is about to perform. However, the eight guitars, baby grand piano, xylophone, drums, and assorted percussion instruments have been tuned solely for his expense. One might ask, "How is one man supposed to utilize all of those instruments?" The answer my friends lies in a digital machine that layers, or "loops," all the notes he plays in perfect rhythmic sequence. If you haven’t seen Keller’s performance art in person, imagine an amiable, floppy-haired man layering chords and beats on top of one another as he moves from instrument to instrument across the stage.

The trance infused beats of "Freeker by the Speaker" got the K-Dub faithful groovin’ right off the bat, and as Keller welcomed us to the "Big Show" I couldn’t help but notice the irony in so many of his lyrics. In a time when so much negativity dominates the news, an evening filled with Keller’s lighthearted social commentary was just what I needed to clear my conscience.

The first set continued with classic "Vacate" and "One Hit Wonder," which ponders the annoyance of this unfortunate pop culture trend. A fiery rendition of the Bee Gee’s "Night Fever" segued effortlessly into "Bob Rules," a tribute to Bob Barker’s famous game show The Price is Right. Keller then took a moment to elaborate upon this dream sequence by taking us into the sound booth of Rod Roddey (The Price is Right MC) and giving us a sample of what was playing over Rod’s headphones. Mr. Williams proceeded to shock and delight the Colorado crowd with an instrumental version of the String Cheese Incident's timeless "Restless Wind." The audience responded with deafening gratitude to close out a remarkable set.

The fireworks continued after the break, with Keller laying down a "mouth flugel" intro to Michael Jackson’s "Don’t Stop Till You Get Enough." Pulling another staple from the repertoire, "Best Feeling" brought us all to that blissful state of mind where, "For one second I felt just like a fish, cruisin’ around in the sea." The laughs continued when, "She got a boob job? Yeah. What? No!" An improvised sing-along "thank you" to the crowd and crew found Keller retreating backstage for mere seconds until the beckoning pleas for more music brought him to his piano for a quick run through "Chopsticks" and Norah Jones' "Don’t Know Why." A stellar "Breathe" put the loyal K-Dub congregation at ease and bid us goodnight.

On Saturday evening, the whimsical Fredericksburg, VA native sent a wave of seemingly impossible rhythms through a crowd eager to soak it up. What struck me most about K-Dub’s performance was his dynamic stage presence and carefree song craft. Keller Williams’ jovial act was just the lift my soul needed to balance all the seriousness and anger present in our world today, and I thank him for that.

Words by: James Biviano
Images by: Brad Hodge
JamBase | Colorado
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[Published on: 4/2/03]

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