Williams brings unique sound to House of Blues

Erika Kreider

“You like my hat? It came with these cool strings that make pretty music.” One-man band Keller Williams is coming to House of Blues Cleveland this Sunday.

Credit: Beth Rankin

In the entertainment industry, people who are singers, actors and models are known as triple threats. Keller Williams is a triple threat in his own way. This laid-back music artist is a talented drummer, guitarist, bassist and lyricist, who pulls all his talents together to make a song. All by himself.

“It’s just your general three-piece type of instrumentation — bass, guitar and drums,” Williams said.

“I’m using a device that you record something… and play it back right in front of an audience,” Williams said. “Nothing, nothing is pre-recorded. The recording is right there on stage and played back immediately, and then I can layer on top of it and get whole different instruments going at once.”

His influences include Michael Hedges, Victor Wooten and Ani DiFranco. Flecktones guitarist Wooten gave Williams the idea for layering sound and recording.

“It’s an old concept. It’s been around for awhile,” Williams said.

“I would say (my sound) is simply solo acoustic, funk, reggae, techno crap,” Williams said in all seriousness. “I stay away from opera, contemporary country and screaming death metal, but everything else, I really like.”

Even though most people end up falling in love with one type of music — and stick with it — Williams tries to branch out into different genres. Grateful Dead opened his musical taste up to jazz, bluegrass and reggae.

“As I get older, I start branching out more and listening to different types of music,” Williams said.

Musically, his inspirations flow from all the different types of music he listens to. “Lyrically, (the inspiration is) real-life situations or good pieces of conversation, and I pretty much go from there,” he said.

Williams had the great opportunity to open for the Dave Matthews Band this summer.

“It was great,” Williams said of the opening slot. “It’s definitely not very glamorous. It looks great on paper. We played for about 1,000 people to a place that holds 20,000. But you get to meet the band and also make friends that way, so I feel very lucky to be a part of that.”

Williams completes his childhood goal of touring the West Coast, which is culturally different than his home state of Virginia.

“The East Coast is a little more social-oriented. People are going to shows as kind of a party,” Williams said. “As the West Coast is a little more into their music, honing in on it. The middle of the country — whew! The middle of the country, they’re crazy people. They’re a little bit of both. A little bit of social, and little bit of honing in on music.”

His mentality is very similar to that of a jam band — very laid-back and wanting people to forget about their problems.

“I want (people) to not have thought of their problems, not to think of the bad things going on in the world,” Williams said about going to one of his shows. “I want them to totally forget about all that and put their focus on something else. That’s kind of what I’m going with.”

Getting wrapped up in his multi-faceted, unique sound is not hard for someone with a love for music. There should be a sound for everyone.

Contact pop arts reporter Erika Kreider at [email protected].