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Acoustic dance music? Keller Williams has you covered



Even after 18 records and, by his count, dozens of shows each year since 1991, Virginia-born Keller Williams has no intention of slowing down.

The last decade has been kind to Williams, seeing him develop a considerable following and live reputation based around his one-man show where he plays what Williams can only describe as “acoustic dance music.”

Just as excitingly weird as it sounds, this “acoustic dance music” could only be the product of Williams, who proudly lists The Grateful Dead as a key influence, alongside electronic music in general.

The very setup of his live show betrays his jam band tendencies, as Williams often appears onstage with only a loop pedal and a few choice instruments that he conducts into a full band sound with meticulous care.

With all the skill involved, Williams’ shows are nothing short of a blast. During any given concert, the 42-year-old might perform a hodgepodge of funk, acoustic singer-songwriter material, bluegrass and Golden Age hip hop, all without breaking a sweat. In other words, he has the kind of talent any musician would kill to have.

Williams, however, will be the first to admit that his musical proficiency took plenty of time to develop.

“I started playing music at 16, just playing cover songs on a porch stoop. I went through many years of just being that guy in the corner that no one really paid attention to,” he said. Sometime in the mid-90s, Williams began traveling around the country, playing up to six nights a week, honing his technique and exploring music scenes all across America.

“Somewhere along the way, I brought in the looping stuff and people really started paying attention,” Williams said. Now settled into his niche, Williams set about making the most of the next decade, moving from eccentric jam-funk projects to stints touring and recording with the String Cheese Incident, and most recently to a collaborative record with bluegrass giants The Travelin’ McCourys.

“Even though I do so much work alone, it’s never awkward working with other people,” Williams said. “Especially when you work with some of the people I have, you just get excited about making music with humans other than yourself.”

Starting with his show at Club Congress tonight, Williams embarks on a weekend tour throughout Arizona, also hitting Tempe’s Marquee Theater and The Orpheum in Flagstaff. Astoundingly, not even his hectic touring schedule can keep Williams’ mind fully occupied.

As Williams explains, “I’ve got a solo piano album of Grateful Dead covers coming out in February, and eventually I want to get to work on this dance remix album I’ve got an idea for. You know, to really explore the boundaries of my live music.”

If Williams’ previous albums are any indication, 2013 will be a good year for acoustic dance music.

Keller Williams plays Club Congress on Jan. 17 at 6:30 p.m. The show is for all ages and tickets are $20 in advance, $22 on the day of the show.


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