One-man band in Beaver Creek
Beaver Creek, CO Colorado
BEAVER CREEK, Colorado “-Alone with his instruments and a looping machine, Keller Williams will be in his element when he takes the stage at the Vilar Performing Arts Center in Beaver Creek, Colorado Thursday night.
Despite touring and recording with Keith Moseley (The String Cheese Incident), Gibb Droll (Marc Broussard), and Jeff Sipe (Leftover Salmon) for the past 18 months, Williams, often referred to as a “one-man band,” is back to exploring the depths of solo acoustic improvisation, using looping effects to layer his instruments upon one another, creating a full and unique composition.
“It’s such a great intimate venue to see him in,” said Sarah Dixon, marketing director for the Vilar Center. “What he does is so unique and this will be a great opportunity to see it up close and personal.”
Dixon said that the theater’s executive director, Kris Sabel, has been trying to get Williams to the Vilar Center for years. This will be his only Colorado show this tour, and his first appearance in the Vail Valley in several years.
Williams has been playing as a solo artist since 1992 after performing in a few bands thorughout high school and college. His high school band, dubbed First Development, sent a tape to a talent show and was denied entrance. Williams, however, entered on his own and won the contest, planting a seed of possibility for a solo career.
“My first (solo) gig was at a restaurant’s back patio, which held about four tables,” he said. “I think it was at half capacity. I spent lots of years just being that guy in the corner.”
But Williams always knew the direction his life would take. He dabbled in hard labor, holding down a few construction and landscaping jobs, but ultimately decided that playing music came the easiest to him.
“I was going to do it no matter how,” he said. “Whether I made money or I didn’t make money, I was going to adjust my life to it.”
The influences that have shaped his sound over the years range from his first album ” Kiss’s “Destroyer,” which he paid for with several weeks of allowance in the first grade ” to punk rock and the Grateful Dead. But it was new age acoustic artist Michael Hedges who stopped him in his tracks when he was 18.
“He opened me up to a whole different world of solo acoustic performance,” Williams said. “He was a one-man genius who I really connected with.”
Williams is no stranger to playing with a band, having collaborated with The String Cheese Incident, Yonder Mountain String Band and Umphrey’s McGee in addition to the most recent lineup. He admits that because he has spent most of his career as a solo artist, he feels more comfortable on stage by himself. Despite that, Williams said he is very proud of the 2007 release, “Live,” that documents a year and a half and 70 shows he performed with Moseley, Droll and Sipe.
“I’ve always wanted to play with musicians of that caliber and it’s a true, honest rush for me to be able to do that,” he said. “There’s this unrivaled energy with a band that it’s impossible to create solo. I take that energy into my solo work, but I find myself still longing for that. Each does wonders for the other.”
Williams said that his next solo album is close to finished, featuring 12 original songs, most of which have been played in a live setting at some point.
He said that the album doesn’t have an official name yet, but the title is likely to follow in the vein of his previous albums which are labeled with a single, loaded word like “Dream,” “Laugh,” “Loop” and “Dance.” And although he’s produced 13 solo albums, he said he is unlikely to run out of meaningful words to describe the essence of an album.
“I’ll run out of money long before I run out of words,” he said.
Who: Keller Williams
Where: Vilar Performing Arts Center in Beaver Creek
When: Thursday, 7:30 p.m.
More information: Call 970-845-TIXS or visit http://www.vilarpac.org