September 1, 2004

Keller Williams’ Looparama

Often sounding like an entire band, singer/songwriter Keller Williams relies on a Gibson Echoplex Digital Pro for the looping portion of his one-man show. “You hit the Record switch on the EFC-7 footcontroller and play or sing something, then hit it again and the phrase repeats,” explains Williams. “Then you can change instruments and overdub new parts until you’ve built up multiple layers—including harmony vocals—all without sequencers, MIDI, or pre-recorded tracks. Everything is generated live.”

Williams not only sings and plays acoustic and electric guitars—with an armory that includes a Martin HD-28 and D-35, an Alvarez/Joe Veillette MTB baritone, a Rick Turner baritone 12-string, a Tacoma Thunderhawk, early-’50s Tempo, and a Gordon Anderson custom 8-string—he can also overdub bass, guitar synth, marimba, percussion samples, Theremin, and even acoustic drums. And that’s not to mention the very convincing percussion and brass sounds he makes with his mouth. His sound mixer, Louis Gosain, contributes harmony vocals and flugelhorn on a few songs, while simultaneously mixing the show.

“The looping provides a different avenue for me to go down to make a song more interesting for myself,” Williams emphasizes. “The main ingredient is still the singer/songwriter-type vibe—playing full songs with verses, changes, bridges, and so on.”

What sage advice does the master offer to would-be loopers? “Don’t do it. [laughing, with tongue firmly in cheek] Play with musicians!”

—Barry Cleveland


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