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Sample essay topic, essay writing: Keller Williams One Man Band - 1737 words
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Imagine attending a concert in which if you were to close your eyes, you would assume that the music you are hearing is being created by a cast of band members, each playing their respective instruments. Contrary to your assumptions, however, this band only consists of one member. Keller Williams, dubbed by critics as a one-man-band, is one of a kind both in his musical talent and his solo act. Very few solo musicians have mastered such a multi-dimensional sound and captivating live show as Keller, making him standout amongst today's musicians. Keller's ability to perform improvisational live shows, form a large and dedicated fan base, and share the beliefs and attitudes of the hippie generation has given him the musical identity of the jam band genre in addition to his personal identity of being a solo act. Keller grew up in of Fredericksburg, Virginia and first began performing at the early age of 16.
Without any formal teaching, he taught himself how to the play the guitar, mimicking the styles of his role models John Fahey, Leo Kottke, and the late Michael Hedges. Williams started out playing in bars and restaurants in his hometown. He played in various bands to help him get a feel for his own skills. After doing so, he decided that a band would not suite the type of music path he was set out for and quickly decided to take a more solo-oriented route. The type of music Keller creates fuses elements of rock, funk, jazz, folk, bluegrass, and techno
His lyrics are "usually lighthearted, inventive and conjuring images of a twisted reality" ("Keller Williams Bio"). It is these characteristics, combined with the looping techniques that he uses to create a full-band sound with only himself on stage, which is what further distinguishes Williams from all other musicians. Placed in the genre of jam bands, Keller is able to create a solo jamming experience with the use of his arsenal of various instruments. Keller was "introduced to looping techniques by 'Flecktones' bassist Victor Wooten," which he now uses "to build a full-band sound with only one man on stage" ("Keller Williams Brings"). A typical song will begin by Williams playing a guitar riff which he will then "loop" so that it repeats continuously. Next, he might pick up another guitar, of which he has collection numbering eight or so, and record another riff which he will loop on top of the original riff. Following that, he may sit down on his drum set and lay down a drum track.
Additionally, he may add his signature mouth flugel to the loop in which he imitates a trumpet sound with his mouth. To conclude his musical creation, Keller uses his onstage synthesizer to alter or create practically any sound imaginable. When all is said and done, a full medley of sound is created in front of an overjoyed live audience. It is this technique of creating a solo act through the use of looping various instruments that has established Keller's personal identity of a one-man-band. Jam bands are set apart from other musical genres by their performances of live, improvisational shows in which only the sky is the limit. The idea of experimentation and improvisation was first developed by the Grateful Dead and is the basis for the jam-band phenomenon.
The idea of not wanting to be constrained by a four minute single was the original reason for this new change. Keller Williams embraces this same idea of improvisation and experiementation and not wanting to be constrained by short-lived singles. He does not feel that he needs to conform to mainstream society and fall under the category of pop music in order to get his music heard. His belief in staying true to himself can be seen by his unusual lyrics which he claims is "a blend of [his] imagination and life experience" ("Keller Williams Bio"). and his on stage experimentation and improvisation. His use of the looping techniques is a prime example of his jam band character since it entails experimenting with technology and on the spot creation of music.
Essentially, Keller's live show could be defined as one big musical experiment. This is because the whole show is based on his ability to create a non-stop flow of music with the various instruments and technology he has on stage. Keller's music is basically musical experimentation and improvisation in its most primitive form. Another characteristic of the jam band genre is a large and dedicated fan base. Lacking the radio play and television coverage that pop groups thrive under, jam bands need to seek other ways of making themselves known. These bands "compensate with relentless touring and by courting fans who seek alternatives to pop formulas" ("Today's Jam Bands").
Additionally, these bands keep their tickets affordable and try to play at smaller venues in order to make a better connection with their fans. Also, jams bands feel that by radically altering their set lists for each concert, fans are more likely to attend multiple performances throughout a tour knowing that each show will be completely different than any previous one they attended. Lastly, the majority of jam bands flourish by permitting fans to tape concerts so that the music can be spread in ways that radio play and television could not do for them. Keller Williams has developed a substantial and devoted fan base by employing all the tools of a jam band. He is constantly on tour, whether it be headlining a single concert or part of a music festival, as he tries to stay under the pop culture radar. Furthermore, the prices of his tickets are reasonable and remain relatively stable. For the most part he only performs at smaller venues to create a more intimate setting with his fans. During touring, it is rare to experience two set lists that even remotely resemble each other.
Last of all, Keller encourages the free taping and sharing of his concerts in order to better spread his music. By utilizing all the strategies that jam bands do in order to promote their music, Williams has successfully created a large and dedicated fan base. The hippie persona that Keller has obtained stems from the jam band genre which shares a lot of the same ideals. The jam band genre can be viewed as a lifestyle in the way that the hippie role is perceived. Both lifestyles believe in a simplified style of living in which necessities are placed above desires.
The dictionary defines a hippie as "one who doesn't conform to society's standards and advocates a liberal attitude and lifestyle." This is similar to the jam band motto which is not to conform to the pop culture scene and to create music with a liberal approach through experimentation and improvisation. Hippies also have unique societal customs that portray their devotion to self-fulfillment, rather then the acquisition of money and power similar to the jam band genre, with the encouragement of free music and keeping ticket costs down for fans. Lastly, hippies adhere to a lifestyle based on peace, love, and freedom. Jam bands believe in the same principles which they portray through their upbeat and positive lyrics and the music which represents freedom in its desire to go outside the box. Keller exhibits all of same principles that hippies and jam bands alike adhere to. This can be seen in his casual attire on stage which is also seen in his audience which represents the laid back lifestyle of both him and his fans.
Also, Keller doesn't feel he needs to conform to society's pop culture scene and takes a more liberal approach by exploring unique styles of music such as funk, bluegrass, folk and jazz. His experimentation on stage with his various instruments also portrays the liberal approach he takes to his music. Additionally, "Keller admits that he plays as much for himself as for his audience. Keeping [himself] happy is the first priority" ("Keller Williams Bio"). Therefore, Williams places self-fulfillment over money and power which is also seen in his low ticket costs and encouragement of freely trading his music. Lastly, Keller's upbeat lyrics that promote the positive side of things represent his belief in peace, love and freedom which is what the hippie lifestyle is founded on.
In addition to the musical identity of being part of the jam band genre and living the hippie lifestyle, Keller's music is distinctly different from the rest of the jam bands because all aspects of his music are created solely by himself. Williams follows all the beliefs and attitudes of a jam band, as a solo act. He is able to accomplish this by the use of looping techniques and his ability to play a variety of instruments. As opposed to a regular jam band where there are various musicians who each play their own instruments, Keller is multi-talented in his ability to play a range of musical tools including a synthesizer and make all the music himself. During a live concert, he will play an assortment of instruments, looping each one on top of the other until he is satisfied with the music he has just created.
In doing so, Williams is likely to experiment and improvise to create a unique sound. The combination of all that Keller Williams has to offer makes him one of the most unique artists in the music industry today. His ability to perform improvisational live shows based on experimentation and form a large and dedicated fan base has placed him in the jam band genre of which his musical identity stems from. Additionally, his beliefs and attitudes are similar to that of the hippie lifestyle which is also comparable to the jam band genre. However, what separates him from the rest of the jam band genre and grants him his personal identity is his ability to create music in the studio and on stage by himself. It is this skill that makes him unique not only among the jam band genre but also the entire music industry. Keller Williams is truly one of a kind.
Works CitedFreedman, Michael. 'Steal My Music, Please.' Forbes 07 July 2003: 90-91. Gundersen, Edna. 'Today's Jam Bands Take cues From The Masters Of Autonomy.' USA Today 13 June 2003. Madison House Publicity . 2002.
Madison House, Inc. 22 Apr. 2005 . Majewski, Kiel. Indiana Statesman.
03 Oct. 2003. Indiana University. 22 Apr. 2005 .
Waddell, Ray. 'A Summer of Jam.' Billboard 05 July 2003: 5-6.
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