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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