ST. PETERSBURG — Genre-hopping multi-instrumentalist/vocalist Keller Williams will perform Friday, March 5, at Jannus Live, 200 First Ave. N., St. Petersburg.
Gates will open at 7 p.m. Tickets are $50 a person. Call 727-565-0550 or visit www.jannuslive.com.
The concert will have limited capacity and will observe social distancing protocols. Audience members will be seated. According to the venue website, Jannus Live is committed to the health and safety of its guests. Face coverings and/or masks are strongly encouraged when indoors or social distancing is difficult. Contactless payment or credit cards are preferred whenever possible. Those who feel sick or have been exposed to someone with COVID-19 recently are asked to stay home.
Williams has built a reputation for his dynamic and unpredictable solo performances.
He released “Freek,” his first album, in 1994. Since then, he has given each of his albums a single syllable title, right up through 2020’s “Cell,” his most recent release. Each title serves as a concise summation of the concept guiding each project. “Grass,” released in 2006, is a bluegrass recording cut with the husband-wife duo The Keels. “Stage,” released in 2004, is a live album, and “Dream,” released in 2007, is the realization of Williams’ wish to collaborate with some of his musical heroes. “Thief,” released in 2010, is a collection of cover songs, while “Kids,” released in 2010, is a children’s album.
Since he first appeared on the scene in the early ’90s, Williams has defined the term independent artist. For most of his career he has performed solo. His stage shows are rooted around Williams singing his compositions and choice cover songs, while accompanying himself on acoustic guitar. With the use of today’s technology, he creates samples on the fly in front of the audience, a technique called live phrase sampling or looping, with nothing pre-recorded. The end result often leans toward a hybrid of alternative folk and groovy electronica.
That approach, Williams explained in a biography provided by All Eyes Media, was derived from playing solo with just a guitar and a microphone, and then wanting to go down different avenues musically.
“I couldn’t afford humans and didn’t want to step into the cheesy world of automated sequencers where you hit a button and the whole band starts to play, then you’ve got to solo along or sing on top of it,” Williams said. “I wanted something more organic yet with a dance groove that I could create myself.”
Williams’ solo live shows — and his ability to improvise to his determinedly quirky tunes despite the absence of an actual band — quickly became the stuff of legend, and his audience grew exponentially when word spread about this exciting, unpredictable performer. Once he began releasing recordings, Williams was embraced by an even wider community of music fans, particularly the jam band crowd.
While his live gigs have largely been solo affairs, Williams has nearly always used his albums as a forum for collaborations with fellow musicians. An alliance with The String Cheese Incident on 1999’s “Breathe” marked Williams’ first release on the band’s label SCI Fidelity Records. “Dream,” his 2007 release, found him in the company of the Grateful Dead’s Bob Weir, banjo master Béla Fleck, bass great Victor Wooten, American musician/poet Michael Franti and many others.
“That album took, from start to release time, about three years,” said Williams. “The object was to get people that I admire musically to play my stuff, so when I’m old I can crank this album in my pimped-out golf cart and have something that I’m really proud of. I was going for the historical effect for my own personal listening pleasure.”
Williams released his 25th studio album, “Speed,” in the fall of 2019. The album saw him reunited with his bluegrass outfit, Keller & The Keels, as they reinterpreted popular songs by celebrated artists including The Doors, Kacey Musgraves, Fiona Apple, Weezer and more. “Speed” is the trio’s third collaboration together and features a combination of originals and covers, performed in their trademark psychedelic Appalachian bluegrass style.
In 2020, Williams released “Cell,” an album born out of quarantine. “Cell” is a collaboration between Williams and Erothyme and features eight tracks of “acoustic-ish dance music.”