Opera House: Keller Williams & Martin Sexton, 3/9

Opera House: Keller Williams & Martin Sexton, 3/9

Keller Williams brings his funky acoustic “Shut The Folk Up and Listen” experience featuring Martin Sexton to Telluride as part of a special three-night run through Colorado. Williams & Sexton perform at Telluride’s historic Sheridan Opera House on Friday, March 9, 9 p.m. (Doors are at 8 p.m.) Tickets, $45 GA floor; $55 reserved balcony, are selling fast. Tickets are for sale online here or by calling 970.728.6363 ext. 5. (A $4 ticketing fee applies at all sales outlets.)

Scroll down for a taste of the duo in action.

Stripped-down and loopless, Keller Williams returns to his roots with just an acoustic guitar as he shares the stage with one of his musical heroes. The evening includes solo sets from both Williams and Sexton, as well as spontaneous collaborations between the two.

Remember that mix tape your friend made you way back when – the one that’s etched in your soul?  Martin Sexton’s new album Mixtape of the Open Road is that musical cross-country trip, blazing through all territories of style, as you cruise through time and place. The record is a charm bracelet of 12 gems all strung together with the golden thread of what Rolling Stone calls a  “soul marinated voice.”  

A native of Syracuse, N.Y., and 10th of 12 children, Martin Sexton grew up in the ’80s.

Uninterested in the music of the day, he fueled his dreams with the timeless sounds of classic rock ’n’ roll. As he discovered the dusty old vinyl left in the basement by one his big brothers, his musical fire was lit.

Sexton eventually migrated to Boston, where he began to build a following singing on the streets of Harvard Square, gradually working his way through the scene. His 1992 collection of self-produced demo recordings, In the Journey, was recorded on an old 8-track in a friend’s attic. He managed to sell 20,000 copies out of his guitar case.

Between 996 to 2002 Sexton released Black Sheep, The American, Wonder Bar and Live Wide Open.

The activity and worldwide touring behind those records laid the foundation for the career he enjoys today with an uncommonly loyal fan base. Sexton sells out venues from New York’s Nokia Theatre to L.A.’s House of Blues, and tours regularly across Canada and Europe.

Happily and fiercely independent, Martin Sexton launched his own label, KTR, in 2002. Since then he has infiltrated many different musical worlds, performing at concerts ranging from pop (collaborating with John Mayer) to the Jam scene to classic rock (collaborating with Peter Frampton); from the Newport Folk Fest to Bonnaroo to New Orleans Jazz Fest to a performance at Carnegie Hall.

Regardless of his reputation as a musician’s musician, Sexton can’t keep Hollywood away. His songs can be heard in many feature films and television including NBC’s “Scrubs,” “Parenthood” and Showtime’s hit series “Brotherhood.”

Keller Williams released his first album in 1994, Freek and has since given each of his albums a single syllable title – Buzz, Spun, Breathe, Loop, Laugh, Home, Dance, Stage, Grass, Dream, Twelve, Live, Odd, Thief, Kids, Bass, Pick, Funk Vape, Sync, and Raw – as those who have followed his career will know. Each title serves as a concise summation of the concept guiding each project.

Grass, for example, is a bluegrass recording cut with the husband-wife duo The Keels.

Stage is a live album, and

Dream is the realization of Keller’s wish to collaborate with some of his musical heroes.

Thief  is a set of unexpected cover songs.

Kids offers Keller’s first children’s record.

Pick presents Keller’s collaboration with royal bluegrass family The Travelin’ McCourys.

And Raw is a solo acoustic album.

Each album showcases Keller’s comprehensive and diverse musical endeavors and functions to provide another piece of the jigsaw puzzle that is Keller Williams.

Keller’s collaborative and solo albums reflect his pursuit to create music that sounds like nothing else. Unbeholden to conventionalism, he seamlessly crosses genre boundaries. The end product is astounding and novel music that encompasses rock, jazz, funk and bluegrass, and always keeps the audience on their feet.

Since he first appeared on the scene in the early ’90s, Williams has defined the term independent artist. And his recordings tell only half the story.

Keller built his reputation initially on his engaging live performances, no two of which are ever alike. For most of his career he has performed solo. His stage shows are rooted around Keller singing his compositions and choice cover songs, while accompanying himself on acoustic guitar. With the use of today’s technology, Keller creates samples on the fly in front of the audience, a technique called live phrase sampling or looping, with nothing pre-recorded. The end result often leans toward a hybrid of alternative folk and groovy electronica, a genre Keller jokingly calls “acoustic dance music” or “ADM.”

That approach, Williams explains, was derived from “hours of playing solo with just a guitar and a microphone, and then wanting to go down different avenues musically. I couldn’t afford humans and didn’t want to step into the cheesy world of automated sequencers where you hit a button and the whole band starts to play, then you’ve got to solo along or sing on top of it. I wanted something more organic yet with a dance groove that I could create myself.”


The Sheridan Arts Foundation was founded in 1991 as a 501(c) (3) non-profit organization to preserve the historic Sheridan Opera House as an arts and cultural resource for the Telluride community, to bring quality arts and cultural events to Telluride and to provide local and national youth with access and exposure to the arts through education. The Sheridan Arts Foundation is sponsored in part by grants from the Telluride Foundation and CCAASE.


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