Keller Williams, who was recently featured in Entertainment Weekly’s Fall Concert Guide as one of the top concert performers to see this season, will bring his lively, self-titled “acoustic dance music” to The State Theatre on Friday.
Williams has been touring all year as a solo acoustic guitarist promoting his new albums, “Raw” and “Sync,” which were both released in January. His show will feature a few tunes from the albums, as well as covers of popular songs and some musical freestyling of his own.
With a process called “looping,” Williams creates music live on stage without any pre-recorded beats or vocals. It’s mostly musical improvisation, which is why every performance is unique, he said.
“Acoustic dance music is what I lovingly call it,” Williams said. “The live show is deeply rooted in solo-acoustic, singer-songwriter, but every other song kind of walks that edge of electronica.”
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Williams knew from an early age growing up in Fredricksburg, Va., that he wanted to be a musician. As a child, he would pretend to rock out with household items as his instruments. Hockey sticks would act as basses and tennis rackets would be his guitars.
When he was finally able to purchase a guitar in his teenage years, he started performing covers of songs to make money. At the time, he was also working a minimum-wage construction job eight hours per day.
Once Williams realized he could make more money playing live music, he quit his construction job in 1992 and focused solely on building a career in music. Twenty-five years later, he has 22 full-length albums out and performs live almost every weekend during the year.
Every one of Williams’ albums has a one-syllable title, dating back to his debut album, “Freek,” which was released in 1994. Williams said he names each album after the theme it portrays.
“The idea was to try and put a one-syllable label on a compilation of songs that describes that compilation in the best way. The idea was, less is more,” he said.
Williams is a versatile artist who hasn’t stuck to one genre over the course of his musical career. Every new album he produces is different from the last. His projects feature themes such as bluegrass music, cover songs, live performances and even a children’s album.
“Raw” is his first solo acoustic album, which is the style his live shows have taken recently. Williams said he loves the overall freedom that comes with solo performances.
“As a solo act I’ve somehow figured out a way to bring the audience in as a part of the band,” he said. “The audience and myself at the same time somehow make it seem like we’re getting away with something, because in a way we are.”
Although he may have an outline for every performance beforehand, no two of Williams’ live shows are ever the same, he said.
Williams said he’s constantly thinking of new wrinkles to add to his shows up until a few hours before the performance. He even accepts requests through his Facebook page from fans planning on attending.
This isn’t the first time Williams will be performing in State College.
Williams has played a few shows in recent years at The State Theatre and at what was the Crowbar, which closed down in 2006. He said college towns are some of his favorite places to perform.
“I think college towns are really cool to play, State College especially,” he said. “There’s just so much vibrant youth that’s on the search for something, and they need to be entertained.”
IF YOU GO
- What: An Evening with Keller Williams
- When: 9 p.m. Friday
- Where: The State Theatre, 130 W. College Ave., State College
- Info: www.thestatetheatre .org