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Keller Williams packs the Pour House

A review of the loop guitarist's intimate show

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Keller Williams
The Pour House
Nov. 4

"I think this is the place for me," Keller Williams said near the end of his second set on Friday, finishing up a two-night stand at the Pour House that started with an all-request show on Thursday. "I had never played here, but now I've played twice."

The singer, guitarist, and loop pioneer clearly enjoyed himself at the Pour House on Friday, playing to a full-capacity crowd for nearly three hours.

He performed behind two new albums — a 2010 collaboration with Virginia acoustic duo Larry and Jenny Keel titled Thief (as Keller and the Keels) and a solo collection of children's songs titled Kids.

Williams had a smaller array of guitars than usual, as opposed to the usual arsenal of dozens of instruments he normally has on hand. He prefers the six-string to the 12-string nowadays.

He opened the show by teasing his way into "Breathe," the title track off his breakthrough 1999 album.

Various percussion instruments joined in the fun, with Williams pulling bells and a triangle out and adding them to the mix. That song moved into an extended "Above the Thunder," layered by chorus effects and vocal harmonies from his sound guy behind the mixer.

Other first-set highlights included "Vacate," during which Williams drew flute sounds out of his synth guitar, and an "Eyes of the World" that included hints of "King Solomon's Marbles." Williams showed off his rhythmic signature right-handed picking technique on a six-string Martin guitar more on "Eyes of the World" than any other song all night.

Williams punctuated the super-jammy second set with "Celebrate Your Youth" and "Floatin' on the Freshies" and then snuck in a quick cover of Amy Winehouse's "Rehab" before closing with "Best Feeling."

Seeing Williams back in a small room was a treat, taking me back to 1999 when he still wore his hair long and played to tiny audiences in student unions (including mine at Davidson).

Despite all the impressive collaborations and bands he's pursued over the years, it's a treat to hear him do what he does best: hold down a stage all on his own.

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