Seventeen guitars, one standing bass, a mandolin, a banjo, and an additional stringed instrument I could not identify—not bad for one man. I have to admit, on my way to Canopy Club to see Keller Williams on Friday, February 6, I was relatively unfamiliar. I knew the name, the style, the reputation, and a few songs, but any expectations I may have had were well exceeded. I really get a kick out of it when one person with a loop pedal, mic, and a guitar can entertain a few hundred people, and that’s exactly what Keller did. With his funky, progressive style, he brought the audience to life during the first half of his set. Breaking the mold of popular music with tight, differentiated rhythms and unique chord choices, Keller’s overall feel teetered between jazz/funk influences and a mesh of jam-esque techniques. Yet, I would say he achieved avoidance of the self-indulgent tangents that often give jam musicians a negative reputation.
During the intermission, one could take note of the crowd presence of dreadlocks, hemp gear, and flowing skirts accompanied by some interesting sights and smells that indicated a general level of inebriation. The vibe of the crowd fit with the vibe coming from the stage and it was a great atmosphere.
After the break, Keller kicked off his second set with a cover of the Rolling Stones’ “Gimme Shelter.” I loved it, as he put a new spin on an old classic. Repeating his
success, he also covered Bob Marley’s “Redemption Song,” and later “Push” by
Pearl Jam. However, herein also lies my primary critique of the show. While all of the
covers sounded great, and I’ll cut him some slack as putting on an hours-long
show alone must be a challenge, original music from an original musician is far superior to a set of covers.
If you get a chance, I would recommend seeing this up-and-coming musician. He has many performances lined up, including one at this year’s Summer Camp. If you dig good music and good people, you’ll definitely dig Keller Williams.

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