Artist: Keller Williams
Studio: Red Distribution
When: Recorded November 19th and 20th, 2004
Where: Mr. Small’s Funhouse & Theatre, Millvale, PA
I recently discovered Keller Williams through a friend and was instantly amazed at the sounds I heard being produced by one man. Soon after, I sat down with the albums “Stage” and “Buzz!” and found myself really wanting to see this guy perform. Unfortunately, Keller hasn’t toured close enough to my neck of the woods for me to see him yet.
Fans I’ve met all say the same thing. “You’ve got to see him live!”
When I found out about his first live DVD entitled “Sight” I was excited for the chance to finally see what all the buzz was about. “Sight” features a complete concert recorded at Mr. Smalls in Millvale, PA and is spliced with behind-the-scenes footage of Keller and friends.
The show opens with Keller playing “Roshambo” backstage using a wireless connection and walking onto the stage to a very appreciative crowd, made up of mostly young, hippy types. The next thing you’ll notice is that Keller is completely at one with his instrument. We’ve all heard the cliché: “he makes it look so easy”, but if this statement is true for anyone, it’s true for Keller Williams. Not once did I see him look at the frets on his guitar. He plays like you or I talk, without visible effort. Keller Williams is, simply put, a virtuoso who is pushing the envelope of acoustic guitar.
The guitar talent is more than worth the price of admission, but he offers much more. The stage is filled with a plethora of instruments. A dozen or so guitars as well as microphones, a bass guitar, a theremin, keyboards and a soundboard that he’s continuously tweaking. The creativity of his stage show becomes apparent at the end of the first song when he does his first “loop.”
Keller will play a guitar line, record it live and then loop what he has captured via pedals on the floor. He then moves onto the bass guitar, which is on a stand in a position he can easily play. He records the bass line and adds it to the mix, then builds layers of sound using guitars, keyboards, vocals and even provides drums with his impressive beatbox skills. His use of technology may sound like a turnoff, but it’s not for a few important reasons.
1. It’s obvious that he’s a virtuoso who does not need technology
2. He has a great sense of humor
3. It’s really fun to watch
I knew before I popped the DVD in that Mr. Williams was a musical force to be reckoned with and honestly, I was expecting an egomaniac. People with this much talent tend to have engorged heads and I was ready to accept a rock star attitude.
I was in for a pleasant surprise.
Keller Williams is a humble and funny man who LOVES what he does.
The first cutaway in the film features his wife asking him questions backstage. Keller speaks in a made-up oriental language for the duration of this initial interview. He’s not the funniest guy in the world, but he had me laugh out loud a few times and he’s very likable.
Keller’s songs are secondary to the performance. He doesn’t have a great voice, but does have a good one. His songwriting is ok, but not extraordinary by any means. It’s his one man band act and virtuosity that make “Sight” a must have for not just fans of Keller Williams, but also for those who just want to be entertained for a while.
2. People Watching
4. Fuel for the Road
5. Freeker by the Speaker
6. Mental Brunette Instra
8. Dear Emily
9. Above the Thunder
10. You Are What You Eat
11. Ship of Fools
12. Heart & Stormy Soul Weather
14. Not Tomorrow
16. Garage Night
17. Best Feeling
Robert Burke spends much of his time creating thematic playlists
for his playlist blog the Rhapsody Radish