Archive for December, 2009

Jedd Ferris I • published December 25, 2009 12:15 am

Asheville Citizen Times


Question: Tell me about the big show.

Answer: Dwayne Brooke of a great band called the Woodshedders doesn’t get down to Asheville very often, so we invited him to open the evening solo acoustic. Then it will be Bawn in the Mash, an eclectic bluegrass rock band from Western Kentucky. Larry and his brother Gary are going to do a set as the Keel Brothers, and then we’ll close the night with a huge Natural Bridge set. This is one of our biggest shows of the year, so we always look forward to it.

Q: This lineup — you, Larry, Jenny Keel on bass on Mark Schimick on mandolin — has been together for about four years now. What’s working?

A: Larry has always had a host of fine musicians to work with since his days in McGraw Gap and his past band, which included Jason Krekel. But I think this lineup has become special. With the longevity of four people sharing space together on stage for so long, something new is reflected in the music. We’re enjoying a telepathic connection that comes from many nights spent listening to each other.

Q: What do you like about working for Larry Keel?

A: Larry has been my friend and mentor for a long time. He’s an amazing teacher, and he has a really original sound in the bluegrass world. Before he offered me the gig, I was a big fan of his music. When I joined the band, I felt like I knew most of the songs already, because I had been digging his music for so long. Larry and Jenny have been good to Mark and I. They’re kind of like surrogate parents and great friends at the same time. They take good care of us.

Q: Tell me about the album you released this year, “Backwoods.”

A: The record was three years in the making. It features some bluegrass but also keeps in touch with outside influences and some of the other music that we love. Keller Williams helped out with a lot of the post-production work. When we finally finished the record, it was a great relief.

Q: Big plans for 2010?

A: I know we have a lot of great festival gigs in the works. We’ve confirmed that we’ll be at Del McCoury’s DelFest up in Maryland. Del had a Grammy-winning album that featured a version of Larry’s “Mountain Song,” so they have a great relationship.

Jedd Ferris writes about entertainment for take5. E-mail him at jeddferris@gmail.com.

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with special guests GRAYSON CAPPS & GUTHRIE TRAPP

Date: Thursday, January 21, 2010
Venue: The Bama Theatre, Tuscaloosa, AL
Doors @ 7PM

Artist and Event Information

7:00pm Fresh & Local acoustic showcase
7:30pm The Newgrass Troubadours
8:30pm Grayson Capps with Guthrie Trapp
9:45pm Larry Keel & Natural Bridge with Tony Rice
11:20pm Encore Jam Ensemble

**Advance tickets ($21 adv/$26 door) available online through Brown Paper Tickets

EYE DAWG Productions and Birmingham’s WWMM 100.5 Live Radio Ad for the Tony Rice & Larry Keel Show on Jan 21, 2010 in Tuscaloosa Alabama… and some great music too! Take a listen in at the Reverbnation widget!

EYE DAWG Productions is proud to bring one of the most exciting combinations in the world of bluegrass and acoustic music to The Bama Theater on January 21st. It will be a stringed-showdown of epic proportions, combining energies of flat-pick guitar masters TONY RICE & LARRY KEEL and NATURAL BRIDGE.

The night will begin with a band set by rising southern song writer and roots artist Grayson Capps with the Master of all things stringed, Guthrie Trapp. Both will be featured guests in the encore jam ensemble, to include all the players that we have on hand. There will also be a late night party hosted by local favorites Shaglo at The Mellow Mushroom that will start shortly after the music ends at The Bama (around midnight). You can get latest on all EYE DAWG events at www.EYEDAWG.com.

EYE DAWG continues its pledge to serve the Tuscaloosa community with information and participation on our Tuscaloosa FRESH & LOCAL event program. Our sponsors and FRESH & LOCAL partners will have a major presence at this event and we continue to focus on ways to produce events that work together with emphasis on community. Tuscaloosa FRESH & LOCAL aims to bring local music, arts and foods together with local businesses to shed light and celebrate green and healthy living.

Read more about each band and the event at:

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By John Hallberg 08:20 pm on Nov 26th 2009


Greetings, my first ANNOUNCEMENT is that the 1st public screening of our filmThe Man They Couldn’t Hang‘ is next sat the 19th at 2pm at CDIA in Georgetown. Address is 1055 Thomas Jefferson Street NW. The film is 75 minutes so we’ll go till a bit after 3. Hope to see a few of you there..for folks out this way the Rappahannock screening will take place in Jan (tba). DVD’s ARE forthcoming but likely just after x- mas. As for a world premiere, we are looking at the 125th anniversary of the ‘hanging’ in feb. Our website will be up in a couple days-I’ll cue you as to the addy etc. and will have more updates. Thanks again!

Clip #1: Dream Sequence

Clip #2: Incarcerated

Note from John Hallberg

I suppose it is a misnomer to say “The Man They Couldn’t Hang” is completely a Rappahannock film, as the story of John “Babbacombe” Lee takes place over a century ago in jolly old England. It is a Rappahannock film insofar as it is largely shot in our fine county, a backdrop that frequently mirrors a faraway time and place. The film is also a Rappahannock venture as the actor list reads like a Who’s Who of area actors both younger and older. The story of Mr. Lee, who survived three hanging attempts one morning in 1884, was apparently compelling enough to garner attention from experienced actors from as far away as Charlotte, N.C. Regional actors including John Sexton (Charlotte), J.C. Lira (Richmond), and Brandon Wilson (Warrenton) lend their talents to this extraordinary tale of fate and redemption. Local actors include Howard Coon, Morgan and Austen Cloud, Maureen Day, Bill Spiedel, 1000 Faces and many others.

Our post-production efforts are just now concluding and that means we will hopefully have a local public theatre showing very soon. DVD authorization and replication will be complete soon as well; an early- to mid-December release is planned. Copies will be available through a site we are setting up now, through Larry Keel’s site (he performs two songs in the film and has an acting cameo), and at several other local venues. They will likely be around $10.

Our time in the studio editing (post-production) has been slower than I expected — we finished shooting in June. This is due to several factors . . . musical score, scheduling time in the booth, etc. — all of which make me more nervous about any public showing. The cast and crew had a party recently and we viewed a not-quite-done version that everyone seemed to like . . . of course it was a friendly audience. I hope to show the film publicly soon after smoothing out the fine-tune stuff (audio glitches, etc).

The story itself is a remarkable tale that so far has eluded filmmakers except right after the events (it was worldwide news and gave the area some infamy). “The Man They Couldn’t Hang” was released in 1918, I believe. A documentary was shot in the 1970s about Mr. Lee and was heavily associated with the folk-rock band Fairport Convention. David Swarbrick was extensively interviewed and the band played much of their landmark record “Babbacombe Lee” live. The physical culmination of the events leading up to the gallows, the trapdoor jamming, was extraordinary but a mundanity compared to the ultimate issues involved: free will, character assassination, redemption, fortitude. These are all things that seem to stand the test of time immortal and to touch our sentiments during any time period. Such is the reason I believe this story may ring true despite any few continuity issues (”Coke can in the Civil War,” I like to call them). The fact of the matter is we didn’t shoot it in old England . . . or even New England, for that matter. That said I think we simulate a lot of things nicely. As I mentioned in the first article in June, Warrenton Jail Museum acts as the location for several sets, all quite compelling and kinda creepy. Speaking of creepy, a film was to be shot in the ’80s about John Lee but so many things went wrong that it was canceled; it was postulated that the spirit of Mr. Lee didn’t approve.

It’s very surreal both doing a project of this magnitude but also doing it where the community and others can so visibly see the results of the work . . . on a big screen. I will make available a link to our soon-to-be finished web site here on Ragged Mountain Voice. My thanks again go out to the many folks who gave their time and effort — behind the camera and in front, with locations, etc. This is truly a community and regional effort and this is a proud region. See you on the red carpet!

John Hallberg

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Keller and The Keels have officially announced that they  are in the studio recording a new album “Thief”.

This will be the second studio album featuring Keller Willams with Larry &  Jenny Keel.    To get a sneak listen of what’s in store, on Dec 16th they’re releasing a  new LIVE song,  “Dancin’ Fool”– (Frank Zappa) from a past show on Keller’s website in the Once a week Freak section.


The words Frank Zappa and blue grass don’t often appear in the same sentence. That’s what makes this track interesting. This features the rock solid bass and high harmonies from Jenny Keel and the ripping crazy guitar solos and vocals of Larry Keel. I’m proud to say that as you read this the follow up to Keller and the Keels “Grass” is being recorded. It will be a record of covers called “Thief” and it will come out late next year. This track was recorded at the first Delfest in Cumberland, MD. It’s always an honor to be on the same stage as Del McCoury but to be a part of his festival was super cool.

Credits: Dancing Fool, F. Zappa C)1995 Zappa Records/ C) 2009 Starworld LLC

You can check it out here.


KELLER  AND THE KEELS: Keller Williams and Larry Keel have known each other since their early years, growing up near Fredericksburg, Virginia, both playing in bands that frequently appeared on the same bill at local venues.  Later on, Keel appeared on Keller’s “Buzz” CD along with fellow Bluegrass peers, Magraw Gap.  Since then, Keel has joined the stage with “K-Dub” on many occasions all over the country, with Keel’s band fronting the sensational solo act that Keller has developed over the years. More recently, Keller has brought Keel and bass-playing wife, Jenny, out for various tours nationwide, to present a more acoustic, “Bluegrassy” version of his own original tunes and of great covers of diverse music that all three players love in common.  The chemistry of this trio is special indeed, as anyone attending the “Keller and the Keels” shows can testify. The first studio album, “Grass”, the trio recorded includes  some great covers a la newgrass from the vaults of Pink Floyd, Tom Petty, and Jerry Garcia and the Dead, amongst others. Its also leans heavily on Keller’s original compositions, and with a good measure of humor and bold musicianship that makes the mix completely irresistible.  The soon to be release second album, “Thief”,  will be exploding onto the scene soon and knock you all off your feet, so get ready!

In the meantime, check out their just released LIVE track of Zappa’s “Dancin’ Fool” on Keller’s website in “Once a week Freak!

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By Lauren LaRocca
News-Post Staf


Originally published December 11, 2009

Larry Keel & Natural Bridge: heritage, heart and hot licks
Courtesy photoLarry Keel, far right, with his band, Natural Bridge.

Show Details at a glance:

What: Larry Keel and Natural Bridge, with opening act Bob KeelWhen: 9 p.m. Friday, Dec. 11

Where: Bentz Street Sports Bar, 6 S. Bentz St., Frederick

Tickets: $13 in advance and $15 the day of the show

Information: 301-620-2222;


Note: This is a 21 and over event.

Jenny Keel was a bluegrass fanatic. She went to all the shows and festivals in the Lexington, Va., area, where she’s lived for 20 years, and was pleasantly shocked a few years back when she stumbled upon “a couple pickers I didn’t recognize … and they were cute,” she said.One of the musicians was guitarist Larry Keel, who Jenny would later marry. The flatpicking guitarist also inspired her to pick up the bass, and she now plays upright for his band Natural Bridge, performing at Bentz Street Sports Bar tonight.

Larry started the acoustic Americana act about five years ago, with Mark Schimick on mandolin and vocals and Jason Flournoy on banjo and vocals, in addition to Jenny.

Larry, known for his high energy sound, was raised in Virginia, among traditional bluegrass music. His songwriting extends to include contemporary genres and innovation. However, Natural Bridge still plays the classics.

He has played with the likes of Tony Rice, Vassar Clements, Sam Bush, Del McCoury, John Hartford, Bill Monroe, Mike Marshall and Darol Anger, among others. He regularly collaborates with Yonder Mountain String Band, Keller Williams, Jorma Kaukonen, David Nelson, Jim Lauderdale, members of String Cheese Incident and Leftover Salmon.

“Larry’s talents and versatility make it so a lot of other artists are interested in playing with him,” Jenny said. “And he’s a super fine solo act. He sprinkles that throughout the year.”

Traditional music is “still really, really a presence” in Virginia, she continued. “It’s not just, like, a new fad. You hear bluegrass music in Wal-Mart parking lots. It’s cool.”

After college, Jenny was busy teaching French and English to high schoolers until Larry Keel entered her life.

“This hit me like a ton of bricks,” she said. “I was getting that nudge to play. I couldn’t help it. I had to give in to it. I found my passion.

The couple created the album “Grass” with Keller Williams, and they’re heading into the studio with him soon to record a second album together.

Natural Bridge is influenced by everything from jazz to Hendrix to Appalachian mountain music.

“We all are deep, deep music lovers,” she said. “It’s very original, the combination of it all. We play things from the heart.”

They play whatever they’re feeling at the moment and write their own material as well. They deem themselves Americana only because they play acoustic instruments.

“Larry’s songs can be very rock,” Jenny said. “It definitely can be a Metallica feeling, but you’re hearing it through upright bass.”

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by Go! music critic Bill Kramer

December 10, 2009


Staunton News Leader

Larry Keel and Natural Bridge has become such a national act that the talented guitarist and his band members don’t get to play in their native Valley as much as they’d like.

But on the heels of the group’s fine recent show at the Mockingbird comes another home appearance, this time at Clementine Café in Harrisonburg. Just finishing a tour of the Pacific Northwest, Keel and company will return to entertain its large local following with more music off its newest recording, “Backwoods.”

The title of the CD reflects much of Keel’s philosophy of keeping a low profile and letting his music do the talking for him. It also is in keeping with his Blue Ridge Mountain roots, which moved him to respect what he calls “American Mountain Music,” bluegrass foundations on which he has added his considerable colorings.

The CD was produced by Keel’s picking buddy, Keller Williams, himself a trail-blazing guitarist. Keel’s wife, Jenny, Natural Bridge’s bassist, joined the pair a few years back to record “Grass,” which explored bluegrass and beyond. Their friendship has grown, and the new CD allows everyone in Natural Bridge to shine.

It features an eclectic mix of tunes, including covers such as the Beatles’ “Mother Nature’s Son,” Tom T. Hall’s “Faster Horses” and Kenny Baker’s “Bluegrass in the Backwoods,” but also spotlights fresh originals by the band.

Mandolin player Mark Schimick contributes “Ghost Driver” and “Swarmin’ Bees,” while banjo player Jason Flournoy adds “Bohemian Reel.” These tunes hold up nicely alongside the three songs Keel penned and “Diamond Break,” which Keel co-wrote with Chris Jones.

As usual, Keel and Natural Bridge continue to redefine what new acoustic and bluegrass entail, throwing into the mix dashes of jazz and rock influences that brew a sound full of energy and nuance.

The current incarnation of the group has been together for some time, and its studio prowess on “Backwoods” is topped only by the member’s chemistry on stage. Keel’s music has always featured permutations, and his improvisational take on anything he plays is enhanced greatly by the fact the rest of the group is with him at every turn, adding its own touch.

Music for Keel has always been about collaboration, be it with Natural Bridge, Keller Williams or the many luminaries he has performed with, including Tony Rice, Darrel Scott, Sam Bush, Drew Emmitt and a whole roster of other noted musicians.

One of the highest compliments he’s ever received was when bluegrass patriarch Del McCoury ranked him as one of the three guitarists he liked best, keeping company with Hank Garland and Tony Rice. That’s pretty high praise from a man who has played with the best in his four decades of making music.

To show respect for Keel and Natural Bridge, McCoury made sure the group was booked at the very first Delfest, his bluegrass festival in Maryland. McCoury also included a cover of Keel’s “Mountain Song” on his 2005 Grammy-winning disc “The Company We Keep.”

But while Keel’s individual reputation grows among his peers, it’s with Natural Bridge that he can lean into the songs and make some of the most interesting music of his career.

If You Go:
  • what: Larry Keel and Natural Bridge in Concert
  • when:Saturday, 9 p.m.
  • where: Clementine Cafe, Harrisonburg
  • tickets: $10
  • more info: (540) 801-8881 or http://www.clementinecafe.com
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    Galen Kipar Project and Jen and the Juice are two fantastic Asheville based acts that will be alternating two sets each December 17th at the Grey Eagle in Asheville, NC.

    The music of the Galen Kipar Project was born out of a curiosity for the exploration of sound and composition, creativity, orchestration, the development of music theory and the love of music in general. The roots of folk, blues, classical, jazz and world beat are echoed within the overall chemistry of the Project’s music. In the past six years, Blue Fusion Soul Folk musician Galen Kipar has produced several live and studio albums with an array of other musicians and a new album is on its way for the beginning of the year. GKP was also recently voted #16 in WNCW 88.7 Southeast Regional Top 100 of 2008.

    Galen Kipar Project is currently working on their fourth release in four years at Echo Mtn. Studio in Asheville to be released this spring. The new release will showcase Jeremy Young– drum kit, Jon Morrow-8 string guitar-bass,  Camellia Delk-viola/ vocals and Galen Kipar-vocals, classical / steel guitars & harmonica.  It will also feature Aaron Ballance (Dehlia Low)-lap steel/ dobro, and Aaron Price-piano.

    Also, Galen was just out in San Fransisco and appeared live with David Gans on KFPA’s “Dead to the World” program a week or so ago and was also played on the Nationally syndicated Grateful Dead Hour this past Wednesday. To listen to the interview and music go to http://cloudsurfing.gdhour.com/archives/2833.

    Jen and the Juice wow audiences with a singularly hipster mix of swingy, bluesy, refreshingly original funk and folk. Together in Western North Carolina for more than five years now, their second CD “Meet the Hooligan’s of Bohemia” in 2007 hit a home run with fans and earned a juicy spot in WNCW 88.7 FM radio’s top 10 regional albums of 2007. Now the Juice is heading into wider territory with a recently released CD “Fruit”, an even more dynamic cast of characters and a step up to regional and national touring. The Juicy Lineup consists of Jeff Knorr (keys), Debrissa McKinney (backing vocals and sax), Ben Bjorlie (bass), Mikie Gray (drums)

    The bands will be performing onstage with a backdrop of projected silent films during the music. There will be plenty of options for holiday gifts at the show as fans can buy the pre-sale special edition of Galen Kipar Project’s new album at the show as well as Jen and the Juice’s latest album, “Fruit”.  There will also be a few asheville artists setting up their wares as well.

    Photo by Lydia See

    Details at a Glance:
    Galen Kipar and Jen and the Juice
    Thursday, December 17th
    Grey Eagle

    doors 8pm, $5
    Two alternating 45min set each
    (828) 232-5800
    185 Clingman Ave
    Asheville, NC 28801


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    An Interview with Larry Keel

    November 25th, 2009 | Posted by: Robie

    Leeway’s Homegrown Music Network


    Flatpicking bluegrass guitar phenomenon Larry Keel has been burning up the stage for 20 years, playing with Magraw Gap, the Larry Keel Experience, Keller & the Keels, and countless others. Keel came to Raleigh, NC’s Lincoln Theater recently with special guest Tony Rice sitting in. Paul Kerr sat down with Larry for the Homegrown Music Network to talk bluegrass, fishing, moonshine, and more.
    By Paul Kerr

    HGMN: You just did the Big Bass and Bluegrass fishing festival. How did that go?

    LK: It was great. It’s down in the middle of Georgia. It’s a pristine private lake down there so it creates sort of a festival atmosphere which is nice. It combines a lot of fishing of course, cause it’s such good fishing, but it also combines music workshops every day. So we do a workshop each day that’s two and a half, three hours long, sort of an official workshop where we’re all seated around a circle with the students. It’s basically a way to learn how to play music with other people, which is so handy to learn.

    HGMN: Because everyone plays in their living room but they’re intimidated.

    LK: Yeah, and this does give them the confidence. At a certain point it’s coming around the circle to you. “Ok, do you wanna do this? What do you wanna play?” It gives the students a chance to play music that other people bring to the table that they wouldn’t know, so it’s a real learning experience. And the rest of the time it’s just great. We have fish fries from the fish we catch. There’s always something great to eat there. The catering is just fantastic country food. And then we play music practically all night long, so it’s a good deal. We’re gonna get ready for 2010 and do some more of them too.

    HGMN: I was reading an article online from 1880 about the philosophy of fishing, and it reminded me of music in a way. It said fishing is the pursuit of the unknown and unseen.

    LK: “The unknown and unseen.” Man, that is so real. That’s the way it is to me – that connection. Because in playing music we definitely improvise like crazy all over the place and that leads into the unknown for sure. And fishing for sure is like that. Every cast, you never know, you might get the world record.

    HGMN: You might find your boots.

    LK: Absolutely. For me, I get off the road, fishing is one of the greatest ways to clear your head out after playing so many notes and just having your head occupied by stuff all the time. I can go fishing and that’s all I think about is fishing.

    HGMN: Do you play music in the boat?

    LK: Oh yeah, we’ll bring a guitar, a fiddle. My buddy’s a great fiddler. We’ve got a good boat banjo too. Get out there and when the fishing gets slow or when you just need some inspiration, whip ’em out and pick one, you know? Plus it’s awesome on the water to do that.

    HGMN: You must get some great pictures.

    Yeah, we’ve got some good video. I’ve got a website I’m launching. It’s called Fishin’ and Pickin’, and it’s all fishing musicians from all over the place. I’ve got some Alaska footage, some footage from Belize, Idaho, Montana, Hatteras, just all kinds, from fishing musicians sending me pictures and videos of what they do. Then on the music side, the pickin’ side, the website will have tablature and music links and all of our new music that we’re releasing will be on there as well. So that’s where you’ll go to get our new music – to Larry Keel’s Fishin’ and Pickin’ website. It’s a cool, cool thing. We’ve got some promise of a cable show to do about it. So we’re putting together a lot of plans. 2010 should be really good. Trying to stay out there, get the word out and do something new too.

    HGMN: You’ve got to be active to keep your fanbase thinking about your act.

    LK: Definitely. I do a lot of different things too, try to touch a lot of different crowds with my music. I’ll be doing some shows with Adam Aijala from Yonder Mountain out in the Pacific Northwest in December. They’ve got a big thing going on out there. Adam’s always been just a great friend and a colleague as well, as far as trading licks with him and everything. He’s a great player. It’s good for us to get together and be able to do something different. Getting to play with Tony Rice tonight, it’s always an honor and just ultra-special, every time, every note really. He’s always been my hero, so it’s like a dream come true really.

    HGMN: How did you meet him?

    LK: I met him a few years ago at different times. I was an aspiring young guitar player and different friends of his would introduce me to him. I don’t think he remembered me, he probably meets a million people like that, but I remember it (laughing). But then we did a few tours together where we’d do three or four shows in a row and then the next weekend we’d do three or four shows. Started getting to know each other a lot like that. And playing with Vassar Clements in the band as well at the same time, so it was Tony and Vassar just really mixing it up.

    HGMN: You grew up with that music all around you, but to find yourself with the people from those records next to you…

    Oh yeah, there’s that sound, right here in my ear, right beside me. Going to the point about keeping your fanbase interested and excited about what you do – I think a lot of that works for us, getting Tony to play with us and doing the shows with Adam and we’ve got some things we’re getting ready to do with Keller Williams too. So that’s a great, different crowd for us to touch with our stuff. Jenny [Keel, Larry’s wife and bassist] and I are going to be part of Acoustic Syndicate basically in December for a couple of shows, cause they needed a bass player and I know all their material so it’s just like falling off a log for me. I love it. What other band do I get to do that with, you know? So that’s what we try to do, just keep the audience guessing. It’s so much fun for us too. You’ve got to do everything you can these days to get the word out there, and you’re still not sure if they’re going to come out.

    HGMN: I came up with a great idea. Maybe you’ve heard of this, but I don’t see why you can’t build a fishing rod into a guitar. So you can be playing and then you feel the bite – “Do I go for the fish? I’m playing this great solo, but…”

    LK: Oh my goodness. Oh my goodness. (laughing) I tell ya, that would be excellent. I’ve played parties or weddings where the lake’s right behind me and I was like, man if I could just set my fishing pole right here on the stage. If I had it attached to my guitar – I’ve thought about that. Yeah, tie on some fishing line or something.

    I was reading about the history of the Blue Ridge Mountain area. You grew up in that traditional atmosphere. Did you have moonshiners in your family?

    LK: Yup, I got an uncle that messes around with it. But my granddaddy, he made the finest there was down in his stretch of the woods down in Dickinson County. Even during Prohibition, the government bought his liquor cause his was proofed so high. I guess they were buying it for themselves pretty much. They had a contract basically to buy twenty gallons at a time, and that fed his family. It really did at that point cause he worked in the mines, but still he had a big family. Like today, basically you got to do anything you can to make it roll – people working hard. Yeah, he was good at what he did and I’m thankful for it. And I guess I’ve got it in my veins cause I’ve loved it all my life, and it just seems to come and find me. It’s a good problem and a bad problem. (laughing)

    Depends what time of day it is.

    LK: Oh yeah, it definitely does. Definitely.

    HGMN: The traditional music fans you grew up with – do they like new, progressive bluegrass?

    LK: Bluegrass is a strange sort of deal because bluegrass by its own standards is probably made up of a lot of extreme purists, which is all great and that’s what keeps classical music known and jazz music and blues and bluegrass and everything. But the way I see it, you like what you like, but at the same time the music has to grow at some point. I’m not into everybody sounding exactly the same to sell a million records. “Because this band sounded like that, if we try to sound like that and look like that maybe we’ll sell a million records.” And that’s the way the music industry works. I was told by a very reputed national person, “Come on up into the fifty-story record company and they’ll buy you a good pair of boots and a pair of tight jeans and get you a haircut and could make anybody a star.”

    But bluegrass isn’t meant to be that way. Yeah, it’s been made into a business and it’s growing as an industry, but the music should speak for itself. And there are bands out there that are, like Steep Canyon Rangers, just true sounding bands that are not trying to sound like anybody else, like Del McCoury Band. I won’t mention the names that aren’t doing it, but I’m sure anyone that follows the subject would know what I’m talking about.

    I’m like that. I’ve always loved bluegrass, and I try to play my bluegrass pure and with respect to the writers, but I’ve got a lot of music in me. I love reggae, I love jazz, I love rock and roll, I love blues. I got to let it out too. And it might come out in a bluegrass flavor but you can tell there’s something weird going on there. That’s what I say – you’ve got to sort of let it all breathe and grow. Everything’s got to grow or it’s gonna die, you know? That’s the way I look at it. Cause a lot of the old fellows from bluegrass who wrote all this and played that are passing on, and I hate that. But who’s gonna take it on from there? There’s got to be a new generation. I want it to be respectful but yet grow. Bluegrass for the year 2010. Pretty wild concept.

    In jazz and bluegrass, the best players get together a lot – it’s not about bands so much. In rock, if two guitarists get together it’s instantly legendary because it hardly ever happens, but the Traveling Wilburys happens every day in the bluegrass world.

    LK: That’s the way it is. People that hear bluegrass remember it from either hearing it around a fireside or in somebody’s living room, and it was always that same sort of thing. “Oh, so and so over here is a great player, you guys really need to meet him.” A lot of that. And it’s a small world too, in bluegrass. You’re bound to meet each other at some point. It’s just hospitable, too. “Come on, let’s play some music together. Let’s hear what you’ve got.” I’ve been to so many crazy places that you would never figure there’s anybody that ever listens to bluegrass, and all of a sudden here comes someone out of the woodwork – “I play a banjo!” “Oh really? Let’s play a tune.” It’s good to see how its been passed around and grown.

    HGMN: If Bela Fleck can come from Brooklyn, they must be everywhere.

    LK: Absolutely. There’s a guy that’s pushed it all the way to the edge of how far you can take it. It’s just cause he’s heard so many things, being in that city, that’s what he’s been influenced by. You might not call it bluegrass, but it comes from there. Amazing, amazing.

    HGMN: You did a stint at Tokyo Disneyland when you were young.

    LK: In Tokyo there were some great musicians. Big jazz scene there, man. Really cool. Really good jazz players. I’d go out to these bars and listen to the jazz musicians, students of Oscar Peterson and older cats that played with Mingus. It was just great. But over there it was interesting to see how bluegrass had spread, because obviously after World War II there were banjos and guitars and mandolins and fiddles that had been left or traded and became popular with a lot of the Japanese musicians. There are some Japanese bluegrass musicians that are absolutely amazing. A lot of them have been involved in bluegrass I guess since the ’40s. Great bands. Bluegrass 45 was one of them. Just fabulous stuff. They’re really working it. But yeah, we did this with Tokyo Disneyland. It’s a great gig to have at 18 years old. We did six half hour shows a day, which was a half hour on, half hour off. It really worked great. It was just fascinating to them basically that we would play in cowboy hats and flannel shirts and cowboy boots.

    HGMN: And did anyone ever really wear that?

    LK: Oh, hell no, not really. I mean, cowboys wear it, you know? I ain’t a cowboy and I don’t know any cowboys that play bluegrass. They play Western swing. But that’s what their impression of it all was. It was great. Great way to get your chops up. They’d let us basically play what we wanted to as long as we played a “Red River Valley” every now and then or “Foggy Mountain Breakdown,” something familiar. “Rocky Top” of course, that was popular. It was great. At 18 years old I was a hillbilly. I’d never really been out of Virginia. I went to Florida to audition with my buddy and then we went straight to Tokyo and just, “Wow, this is pretty crazy.” But we got a lot of respect. It was a great country, really. The way it was run was the cleanest country I’ve ever seen and just efficient. It’s just amazing. A really good time if you ever get a chance to go, that’s for sure. Safe as it gets.

    HGMN: If you had to pick one, what’s the best concert that you ever saw?

    LK: For just the general life-changing thing I would say The Grateful Dead in Cincinnati. That’s the only time I ever saw them. I saw the Jerry band, which was life-changing too, like four shows in a row. But I got to see the Dead once in Cincinnati. I think it was ’89, pretty sure about that. You never forget it, you know what I mean? You hear all you want but till you go see the whole thing and experience it all…

    And that’s the only time you got to see them?

    LK: That’s the only time I got to. I had a million chances but at the same time I was going out and seeing Tony Rice who was life-changing for me, a great guitar player. He’s a statue of the way it should be. So I spent my time going and seeing him. I was a heavy metal freak too. I used to like Judas Priest and stuff like that. Took a lot of that in. Took in a lot of foreign concerts – Irish and just all kinds of things, Italian music, just anything I could get a hold of, really. But yeah, that Dead show was pretty much a change of the way you look at things, all the way around – musically, everything. It was beautiful.

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    by Rebecca Sulock on 12/03/2009
    click for the original article in Asheville’s Mountain Xpress
    Related topics: music, Music, LaZoom, Afromotive

    Photo by Jonathan Welch

    Looking for a way to warm up this weekend? Get on the bus and ride out to Black Mountain for an Afromotive show on Saturday, Dec. 5.

    The LaZoom bus will be picking riders up at 6 p.m. from the Wedge Brewery, ferrying them out to White Horse Black Mountain for the show, and bringing them back once the show ends at 11 p.m. For the ride, LaZoom will be the party bus: Riders will get treats, libations and entertainment from members of Afromotive on the way. Better than a sleigh. E-mail afromotive@gmail.com to make reservations. The show is $12. VIP tickets, which include the LaZoom shuttle, are $25.

    Zabumba Samba Troupe will open the show, which will be Afromotive’s last of the year. Over the winter, Adama Dembele and Ryan Reardon will be heading to Côte d’Ivoire (Ivory Coast), where Dembele is from.

    More on Afromotive, from Dreamspider Publicity:

    “Afromotive is helping to start a new wave of uptempo afrobeat music- fusing West African rhythms, song forms and instrumentation with funk, improvisation and straight-ahead dance beats. … Adding to the experience is 33rd generation djembe player Adama Dembele from Cote d‘Ivoire. He has toured several continents, performing with various major acts such Oumou Sangare, Salif Keita, Affou Keita, Sogona Djata and many others. These traditional West African rhythms combined with a mentality that moves beyond pure traditionalism and into new realms of musical possibilities is what Afromotive brings to its audiences. It’s a sound that crosses musical and ethnic boundaries.

    Afromotive provides unique exciting music to “dive into,” describes Afromotive bass player Ryan Reardon, because it is fun to listen to and dance with a strong rhythm and groove. “There is no separation,” he said. “If the music is playing, you’re dancing. It’s one and the same. We bring a dance show.”

    Read Alli Marshall’s April 2009 story on Afromotive.

    More info at http://www.whitehorseblackmountain.com.

    Also you can find more info on the Black Mountain Music Scene

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    Asheville’s own cosmic Willy Wonka of music and more, multi media wonder, Jenny “Juice” Greer has brewed up The Big Brown Bag Songwriters Competition to keep up warm at MoDaddy’s on Monday nights this fall. The series takes place at MoDaddy’s on Biltmore Ave in Ashevillle and began on October 5th and the last weekly round is Monday Dec 7th with the Finals on Friday December 11th. Also, big Thanks to the Wedge Brewery for sponsoring the beer for judges and musicians! Also sponsoring are Henco Reprographics for event printing needs, local music ambassador Rhoni Sampson with Gorilla Marketing, and Dreamspider Publicity.

    The rules to enter each week: Each act is limited to three people on stage, no amplifiers, and two songs per act. Each week there is a rotating cast of celebrity judges consisting of local seasoned musicians and music industry professionals. This is in the spirit of fostering relationships amongst the different sectors in the music industry here in Asheville. The four judging criteria are lyrics (words, poetry, content), vocal performance, musical composition/ instrument playing, and stage presence (which includes crowd response).

    For the Big Brown Bag Series Finals on Friday, December 11th, each weeks winners will be showcased. Three finalists will be chosen to perform a second round that evening from which the Big Brown Bag winner will be chosen by the celebrity judges: international touring musician David Wilcox, Rebecca Sulock (A&E Editor at the Mountain Xpress), Bad Ash (Radio host at 105.9 the Mountain and 98.1 the River), Brian Landrum booking for the Grey Eagle and producer Robert George.

    The audience will also be voting on the winner of the Audience Choice Award.

    Live Video Streaming on the internet of this Big Brown Bag Series Final is provided by David Conner Jones at http://www.ustream.tv/channel/big-brown-bag-songwriting-competition-finals.

    What do the finalists win ? Other than the Brown Bag, past winners of the final have played at LAAFF 2007 and the Mountain Sports Fest 2008. This year, Jenny Juice has been collaborating with local restaurant/ bar Jack of the Wood to book some of the weekly winners in the pub throughout the winter and spring. The three finalists of the shootout that come back to play one song each. These three performers will go on WNCW’s Local Color with Laura Blackley within in the next month so be on the lookout. Hillcreek Studios will host  a party featuring BIG brown bag final winner the as well as the runners up.

    Weekly Winners So Far (and who you should expect to see at the Finals):
    Valorie Miller
    Ten Cent Poetry FINALS WINNER!
    Lyric Jones
    Taylor Martin
    Shane Connerty FINALS RUNNER UP!
    Dulci Ellenberger
    Lyndsy Wojcik
    Mike Willis SECOND RUNNER UP!
    Julian from Baby Cowboy

    You can also read more about The Brown Bag Series in the recent Mountain Xpress Article.

    The idea for hosting the Big Brown Bag Series here in Asheville came to Jenny Juice about three years ago. It stemmed from similar songwriting competitions that take place at Eddies Attic (which one of Asheville finals just recently won the Finals!) in Atlanta and the Bluebird Cafe in Nashville. The idea of the Brown Bag is that everyone who performs puts a few dollars into the bag upon entry. This brown bag is also passed around the audience to throw in a bit of cash and it is then awarded to the winner at the end. For the Finals, the brown bag will be filled by only the people that come and partake in the crowd and not the performers. Then, at the end of the night, the one lucky winner keeps the brown bag with the cash.

    Jenny is quick to point out that this is not about the money, though. This series is here to support original songs and songwriters through a listening room experience and to provide a network for the musicians to get to know one another. People are asked to keep their talking to a minimum during each performance so that everyone can really hear each person songs. 2009 Performers thus far have included many longtime Ashevillians, newcomers to the area, and everything in between across multiple genres of music and style.

    Prizes for the winner include: $500, hand-made trophies by Dreamspider Publicity, one free 1/4 ad in Mountain Xpress, treasured spot on Laura Blackley’s Local Color wncw.org, poster printing from Henco, and Gorilla Marketing from Rhoni Sampson via Orange Peel and Anythings Possible Productions.
    If you’d like to support the lucky winner with a prize please email jen@jenandthejuice.com

    If any of you witnessed this event in the past, you can testify, it was a beautiful thing. Last time it was held at the Root Bar the finals looked like a Walmart parking lot on black Friday! 😉  Everyone that comes out should hope to hear some cool songs, be inspired, and support the the Asheville music scene.

    Details at a Glance:
    Big Brown Bag Songwriting Competition Finals
    Friday, December 11th
    Brown Bag cash prize for winner!

    Tix $6

    Jenny “Juice” Greer

    77-B Biltmore Avenue
    Asheville, NC 828-258-1550

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