by Andy Lassiter, Charleston, SC
James Island Messenger
Just a month ago, Larry Keel and his band Natural Bridge were playing a headline spot at Awendaw Green’s annual Rocktoberfest concert. What ensued there was anything but expected. Keel and the band invited local Charleston rockers Sol Driven Train on stage, for an extemporaneous medley of Bob Marley songs, musical interplay, and onstage antics that fired up the crowd and made for an extraordinary end to the weekend. This kind of musical uncertainty and intensity is part of what has kept Keel in the bluegrass spotlight for over 10 years now.
A fan favorite in Charleston, Keel and the band (Mark Schimick on mandolin, Jason Flournoy on banjo, and wife Jenny Keel on upright bass) will be playing a special show at the Charleston Pour House on November 21, joined by bluegrass legend Tony Rice. Rice has made a career of his own in the last 50 years, and played alongside legends like Jerry Garcia, David Grisman, Peter Rowan, Alison Krauss, and Ricky Skaggs, to name a few. He is easily one of the most well respected flatpickers on the scene, and will certainly add a new element to the typically high energy Larry Keel experience.
How exactly Rice influences their performance is still yet to be seen, but as usual, some surprises are guaranteed. “It’s weird,” says banjo player Jason Flournoy, “We have a real organic approach right now. It’s real free flowing when [Tony] gets up there. He likes playing Larry tunes, so we write out the setlist and just wait to see what happens from there.” It will indeed be interesting to see how the stoic Rice and sometimes unruly Keel will interact on stage.
“Larry can be anything you want him to be, wild, rowdy, intellectual, chill, what you see is what you get,” says Flournoy. “When he’s on stage, he’s fired up, he’s just happy to be there.”
To be sure, the show will be an exciting night of high energy bluegrass. The band has a longstanding relationship with the Pour House, and looks forward to every show in Charleston. “The Pourhouse is just good, professional people,” says Flournoy, “We love everyone there.” As for how it feels for the band to be sharing the stage with one of their idols, “It’s just freaky, to look over and see one of my biggest heros give me a nod to take a solo…It’s awesome.”
Show Details at a Glance:
Larry Keel and Natural Bridge with Tony Rice
Saturday, November 21st
$18 adv & 20 dos
1977 Maybank Hwy
Charleston, SC 29412
Read Full Post »