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

Categories: Jam

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C. Taylor Crothers
Keller Williams jumped for joy when he realized he longer needed to hire a band for tours.

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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Prescott Band Spafford's Jams Aim for the Greats

Categories: Jam

Say you've been waiting for your favorite band to perform at a music festival. You've spent some time scoping out the best spot on the lawn, and you've sacrificed any object you can spare to carve out your spot. It's a tough decision to give it up to check out a local band on another stage, but those who left their coolers and lawn chairs behind before STS9 took the stage on the first night of the McDowell Mountain Music Festival in late March experienced the sweet reward of Prescott's very own Spafford, a band bent on providing "electro-funk therapy."

See also: 10 Things We Learned at McDowell Mountain Music Festival 2014

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Dark Star Orchestra to Bring an Acoustic Grateful Dead Set to MIM

Categories: Jam

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There are an estimated 300 Grateful Dead tribute bands (by one website's account), including the Tempe-based Xtra Ticket. But of all those bands, only Dark Star Orchestra actually play the Dead.

Let us be a little clearer. DSO picks a Grateful Dead show from a list of thousands spanning the Dead's 40-plus-year career -- that's a hell of a lot of shows! -- listens to them (almost everything the Dead did is archived) and then performs that set list. The band always brings in the right equipment -- organs or pianos, percussion instruments, the "Donna" singer, etc. to get the feel as right as the songs. Yet, DSO doesn't try to emulate the concert note for note, but rather puts its take on the show. Having studied the Dead for so many years and having performed over 2,000 concerts, DSO accurately captures the feel and intensity that was the Grateful Dead. This is as close to the real thing as it gets.

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