In the tradition of guitar virtuosos Michael Hedges and Leo Kottke, Keller Williams is a one-man band, a 10-string prodigy, finger-picking with his right hand and banging out rhythms on his customized rig with his left, while triggering any number of loops and samples electronically. Though based in a loose-limbed jazz-blues, Williams likes to work in folk, reggae, light funk jams and a little bluegrass. More than simply a guitarist, he'll play as many as a dozen different instruments (not counting his self-styled "mouth fluegel") in the course of an evening, and draw liberally from other artists, from the Dead to Peter Tosh to Ani DiFranco.
Other than the number of members, what separates Williams from similarly minded jam bands such as Phish and the String Cheese Incident (with whom he recorded his '99 debut, Breathe) are his quirky, offbeat songs that have a certain naive charm. On his latest album, Home, Williams excitedly ponders the airport's "Moving Sidewalk," noting that "the right side is for standing," while working a chugging tribal-funk beat. And on the reggae-driven "Dogs," he considers the intricacies of dog romance, imparting with a certain gravity that "he's a bed hog, she's leaky." More goofy than clever, Williams' best talent is as a showman -- regaling with his technical prowess and a lighthearted smirk, dancing and making funny faces like Wayne's World's Garth in a H.O.R.D.E. tee shirt.
Get the ICYMI: Today's Top Stories Newsletter Our daily newsletter delivers quick clicks to keep you in the know
Catch up on the day's news and stay informed with our daily digest of the most popular news, music, food and arts stories in Phoenix, delivered to your inbox Monday through Friday.