Yet layer by layer, he creates rhythms that morph into one seemingly unthinkable groove, spreading an uplifting vibe that has amassed the Virginia native a loyal following from coast to coast.
Coming for the first time to the Tarrytown Music Hall on Saturday, Williams is intent on turning the place into one big dance party by the time the night’s through.
“It’s totally exciting playing at a new venue,” Williams said. “Some of the songs I’ve been playing for years and the old fans want to hear them, but the new folks are getting them for the first time and so that gives me a little something extra. Just knowing they’re hearing it for the first time and seeing their reaction, it’s always a joy.”
The show in Tarrytown comes amid a high-profile national tour, which includes stops at the Rothbury Festival in Michigan, the All Good Music Festival in West Virginia, and the Gathering of the Vibes in Bridgeport, Conn.
He also will be teaming up with Dark Star Orchestra during the tour for several dates throughout New York, including Governor’s Island on July 11 and the Saranac Brewery on July 17.
“They’ve become good friends of mine,” Williams said of Dark Star Orchestra. “I have a huge amount of respect for what they’re doing.”
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Chatting by phone earlier this week, Williams also offered up respect for the bands String Cheese Incident and Phish, both of which he is happy to see performing together again — even if SCI has so far only been talking about pulling it together for one performance.
“Reading about things that went down (with Phish’s breakup), I can totally relate to Trey (Anastasio) and how he wanted to get away from that monster that was Phish Tour,” Williams said. “I saw a lot of shows and I had a great time with it, so as a fan I’m elated that they’re playing music again.”
One of the most prolific songwriters on the scene in his own right — with his 14th album to be released this summer — Williams is intent on getting more of his music out to fans, utilizing a new online feature called “The Once A Week Freek.”
Available at www.kellerwilliams.net, “The Once A Week Freek” gives listeners the opportunity to download a new song each week at a cost of 99 cents. To start things off, Williams is offering a track a week from his latest album, “ODD,” in the order that the tunes appear on the disc. The album’s official release date is Aug. 12.
Once all the new tracks are out, Williams will begin selecting a mix of material from never-before-heard original studio recordings, live gems, and even songs recorded as recently as the night before’s show.
“That is when the fun will start,” he said of being able to dig through his collection. “I have a constant flow of stuff coming out musically, both live and in the studio.”
Williams plans to keep this up for at least the rest of the year, reluctantly embracing the idea that the future belongs to those who go digital.
“I think the future — as much as I hate to admit it — is in digital,” he said. “The way it makes me feel better is that if its digital, it could be immortal.”
Immortality surely is a tall order, so for now Williams is just happy to be living a life of music.
These days he is especially inspired by “intricate drummers that go in different places,” particularly mentioning the Nigerian pioneer of afrobeat music Fela Kuti and the contemporary Ethiopian singer Ejigayehu Shibabaw, better known as Gigi.
He also admits he’s been “somewhat obsessed” with his fretless bass.
“I’ve been toying around with being a bass player, maybe in a three-piece with a crazy jazz drummer or a pedal steel,” he said. “I’m grateful to have a job like this where it’s really fun for me to dig into different projects.”
June 26 Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center Great Barrington MA
June 27 Tarrytown Music Hall Tarrytown NY
July 2 ROTHBURY Rothbury MI
July 5 Nelson Ledges Quarry Park Garrettsville OH
July 9 All Good Music Festival Masontown WV
July 11 Governor’s Island New York NY w/ Dark Star Orchestra
July 16 Artpark Lewiston NY w/ Dark Star Orchestra
July 17 Saranac Brewery Saranac NY w/ Dark Star Orchestra
July 18 Vasa Park Mt. Olive NJ w/ Dark Star Orchestra
July 24 Gathering of the Vibes Bridgeport CT Keller Williams and The MD’S
August 1 Celebrate Virginia Fredericksburg VA
August 6 Bottle and Cork Dewey Beach DE
August 12 Spud Drive In Driggs, ID w/ Dark Star Orchestra
August 14 Festival @ Sandpoint at Memorial Field Sandpoint ID
August 15 Frontier Ranch (Shamy Bash) Frontier Ranch Music Center Pataskala, OH
August 21-22 Mishawaka Bellevue CO
August 29 Music on the Mountaintop ~ The Old Fairgrounds Boone NC
September 7 Bumbershoot Festival Mural Amphitheatre Seattle WA
October 8 Sherman Theater Stroudsburg PA
October 17 Park West Chicago IL
October 23 Englert Theatre Iowa City IA