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Friday, Oct. 12, 2007
By WAYNE GABEL
If you believe sampling is a fraud perpetrated by people who lack musical chops, Keller Williams might just prove you wrong.
Not content to plop his butt on a stool and strum away, the Virginia native positions himself on stage amid an array of instruments, recording snippets of bass, guitar and other instruments and looping the results for playback in a way that allows him to accompany himself as he sings and plays guitar.
Though this "one-man jam band" can do it all alone on stage or in the studio, Williams is happy to share the spotlight. The proof is on "Dream," released in February and featuring input from his dream team, which includes such jam and jazz luminaries as the Grateful Dead's Bob Weir, The String Cheese Incident, guitarist John Scofield and banjo player Bela Fleck. But making his dream come true gave Williams some nightmares.
"Very few actually said that they weren't interested in being involved, but very few came back right away with a date," Williams writes by e-mail. "Since they didn't say no, I kept at them — for three years."
Humility and a good sense of humor have gotten Williams, who played the 2004 Fuji Rock Festival, through the rough spots. "I learned from the very beginning — when I was just playing restaurants where people were there to eat and not listen to the dude playing music in the corner — that I play for myself," he says, adding, "I am extremely grateful that there are people in front of me, no matter what their reason for being there."
Keller Williams plays Oct. 18 at Shangri-La in Osaka ( 6535-5569); Oct. 19 at Tokuzo, Nagoya ( 936-6041); Oct. 20 at Eight Hall, Kanazawa ( 264-3586); Oct. 21 at Daikanyama Unit, Tokyo ( 3444-6751); all shows start at 7 p.m.; tickets are ¥5,800 in advance.