Jam

Singer-Songwriter Keller Williams' One-Man Band Sounds Like a Four-Piece

According to Harry Nilsson, one is the loneliest number. But for singer-songwriter/multi-instrumentalist Keller Williams, one is more than enough. Unlike one-man bands of old, Williams doesn't have cymbals on his knees, horns under his arms, taps on his toes, or a drum on his back. Rather, Williams has propelled the art of the solo performer into the modern age with the help of electronic effects.

Williams' weapon of mass construction is the sequencer. Mastering what he calls "live phrase sampling," looping and delay effects allow Williams to harness a snippet of sound and, with the touch of a button, put that sound into a looped rotation. He then works around that sample, layering on more guitar, bass lines, keyboards, and drums, slowly building each song's foundation, all the while singing over the top. The result is a cacophony of sound that is far beyond what one man should normally be capable of creating -- to the point that one naturally assumes there's a whole band backing him.

"Technology has changed, so I can do much, much more with much, much less," he says during a recent phone interview. "It's not only incredible, it's wireless. I have this MIDI [musical instrument digital interface] on my guitar. I can play something at one station, then walk over to the edge of the stage, and play some backwards flute solo or something.

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Glenn BurnSilver
Contact: Glenn BurnSilver