Music review: Keller Williams spreads his love
Crowd pleasing and compelling, Keller Williams delivered an impressive and entertaining show at the Vilar Performing Arts Center Thursday night. In true form, Williams maintained a lively stage presence and interacted with fans in a personable and distinct style. Williams, a renowned “one-man-band,” supplies gripping performances that encompass music, humor, storytelling and captivating improvisation. Having collaborated with many artists prominent in the Colorado music scene, including String Cheese Incident and Yonder Mountain String Band, Williams is no stranger to the Rockies. He is always well received by Colorado crowds and never ceases to provide fans with animation and pure talent. His jovial stage presence and frivolous livelihood mend seamlessly with fans’ demeanor.
Having been on the scene since the early ’90s, Keller has gained prominence as a performer who distinctly defined instrument looping. A master of most musical entities, Williams impresses audiences through his use of Gibson’s Echoplex delay system. Through a single guitar riff, scat sequence, bass line, or audible oral beat-box, Keller combines melodious sounds to create commanding, crowd moving compilations. Thursday was no exception to Keller’s crowd-pleasing habits as he induced laughs and cheers from the audience.
Accompanied in his first set and encore by cohorts Larry and Jenny Keel on guitar and standup bass, respectively, Vilar patrons were treated to an energetic trio whose liaison unmistakably ran deep. While Jenny’s cheery presence and virtuous bass plucking lightened the locale, Larry’s impressive string picking and booming baritone voice laid an authoritative tone that was matched by crowd appreciation. The Keels joined forces with Keller for their 2006 release Grass which features an adaptive bluegrass collection of classics which range from Pink Floyd’s “Another Brick in the Wall” to Beck’s “Loser.” Thursday’s show included covers such as Marcy Playground’s “Sex and Candy” and the Grateful Dead’s “Mountains of the Moon” along with originals new and old such as “Stunt Double” and “Best Feeling.”
Even without the commendable Keel duo at his side, Keller effortlessly engaged the crowd during his solo set. A combination of instrument variety, impressive vocal range, and incomparable onstage jigs maintained crowd admiration and interest. Keller even entertained crowds with Colorado classic “Floating on the Freshies” and included an amended version that advocates skier-snowboarder on-mountain harmony. This was well received by an integrated audience whose mountain preferences were lost in Keller’s consistent beats and absorbing lyrics. Barefoot and smiling, Williams’ stage presence comes with a natural persona that matches his passion for live performances.