Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘experience’

Check out this great article about the inaugural Infamous Stringdusters Festival, The Festy, that took place this past weekend in Nelson County, VA.   Diane Wildman Farineau is the author and Milo Farineau is the photographer that took this amazing shot!  The two of them have joined forces with Chester Simpson Photography and are working on a book called, The Festival Project to document the music festival lifestyle and to chronicle all types of music festivals, with an emphasis on the revival of bluegrass music... Also click here for Diane’s complete interview with Larry Keel and Natural Bridge at the Festy!

Introducing The Festy

by Diane Wildman Farineau

Incredible music, a breathtaking venue and promotional visionaries got married about a year ago and gave birth to a baby this weekend and its name is The Festy.

The first cries issued forth from this newborn on Saturday, October 9th on the double stages in front of the Devil’s Backbone Brewing Company, in beautiful Nelson County, Virginia were soft and sweet, with performances by Sarah Siskind, Robinella and Crooked Still, but as the evening and weekend progressed, the cries turned lusty and ferocious culminating with stage thumping and fist pumping performances by the Infamous Stringdusters (the event’s curators and hosts) and Railroad Earth.

Like most newborns, this baby didn’t get much sleep this weekend, as the jams went on well into the wee hours both on stage and in the form of impromptu campfire performances throughout the campground. “I was walking back through the camp zone after it got dark and I saw all these fires, and heard the sounds of picking and people hanging out and that’s a big piece of the whole puzzle that makes a great vibe,” said Stringdusters guitarist, Andy Falco, “there are not enough facial expressions that we can make to show how excited we are about this festival.”

That the award winning Stringdusters could line up a few friends to “gig for a weekend” wouldn’t surprise anyone. The true indicator of success, however, lay not only in the breadth of talent represented, but also its depth. Included in the line up were legendary flat pickers Larry Keel and Tony Rice. The crowd was in awe, as were a number of the performers. Said Keel about their involvement: “We were called by the Stringdusters and they said they were having a festival up here…I couldn’t believe it, I love playing in the hills of Virginia, and they said they really wanted us to be a part of it, so we worked it out and we’re real glad we did.”

Unlike some festival events, where bands roll in and roll out in a dizzying cloud of dust, the goal of these organizers was to create an environment and a vibe where performers would want to stick around, not only to catch up with friends, but also to sit in and jam with one another, something so many love to do, but for which they don’t always find the opportunity. Said Jenny Keel; “The hanging out factor was good. Having the band mastermind it all had a great impact and a very positive one.” There was a veritable love-fest backstage, between artists, organizers, the production team, and volunteers and this vibe flowed from behind the curtain out across the stage and into the crowd which sang and danced their hearts out for two full days and nights. Said Allan “El Ron” Ronquillo, promoter from Running Smooth and good friend of Railroad Earth “When an event is done well like this, everyone, from the band to the fans, walks away feeling empowered.”

More than just a concert, the Festy was designed as a lifestyle, wellness and music experience. In addition to music, the event hosted both a trail running and mountain bike race on the two mornings. Yoga classes were free and available to all participants. A climbing wall, massage therapists, a host of food and beverage vendors, instrument workshops and educational workshops on environmental sustainability were all in the mix. “What we’re doing here” said Michael Allenby, (owner of The Artist Farm, and event co-producer) “is creating an experience for people who love the outdoor culture.” Said Devils Backbone Brewing Company owner and venue developer, Steve Crandall, “we’ve done a lot of work to point event participants in the direction of local resources here, we’re about creating sustainability.” With crisp fall weather and access to hiking and biking trails, participants took full advantage of what the area had to offer. “People come to this area and fall in love with it instantaneously, we can’t manufacture or fabricate any of these mountains around us, that’s their dream, the Blue Ridge Mountains, when folks pull in here…..it’s overwhelming ” said the event’s production company, Cerberus’s co-owner, Justin Billcheck.

Great time, great music, great location, this nascent event just knocked it right out of the park. Go ahead and mark your calendars, this baby will turn one next year on October 8 & 9, 2011 and that’s going to be a birthday party no one should miss!

Click here for the post on the Bluegrass Blog with more photos from Milo and here for photos from the Festy staff photog Tom Daly.

Read Full Post »

Larry Keel: Progressive Bluegrass

By Tricia Lynn Strader,  Shepherdstown, WV

Flatpicking guitar virtuoso Larry Keel likes to mix up all kinds of musical styles in his pursuit of progressive Bluegrass. He blends Bluegrass, Jimmie Hendrix or Jerry Garcia, jazz, classical, or George Jones into his versions of popular songs or original tunes. He and Adam Aijala from Colorado’s Yonder Mountain String Band plan to tear it up Wednesday night at Shepherdstown Opera House in a highly energetic acoustic performance—their only one in the region this year.

Keel and Aijala are on a tour of shows in the South East. Last year, their wild riffs and antics in their live shows were very popular out West

Photo by Bright Life Photography

Since he was a boy, Keel has played guitar and performed in various bands around the world. He’s worked with legends such as Tony Rice, Sam Bush, Vassar Clements, Jim Lauderdale, Peter Rowan, and Mark Vann to name a few.

At 18, he began a professional musical career by working for the Disneyland theme park in Tokyo, Japan. But that came after growing up in a musical family. “My father played banjo and guitar,” he says. “He taught my older brother Gary how to play. They were always playing even though they never had a touring band. Every weekend they’d play and have musician friends over.”

At eight years old, his brother bought him a guitar. “He saw I was itching to play. Ever since he bought it for me, I never laid it down. The guitar is always part of me.”

When he was younger, he listened to Flatts and Scruggs, Bill Monroe, and old country like Webb Pierce or George Jones. He says as a teen, he discovered Hendrix, Garcia, and all kinds of music.

“I love it all – bluegrass, country, jazz, reggae, classical. The other styles inspired me to learn different songs I liked.”

Keel started playing in different semi-professional situations like fiddlers conventions or community events. He paid his dues early, as a young player and teen. Then, lady luck began to strike.

“A friend of mine in Florida was playing and told me about an ad for musicians with Disneyland. He talked me into coming down to audition. We found a bass player, and formed a trio. After rehearsing for two weeks, we auditioned, and they gave us a deal with Disneyland in Tokyo.”

Larry and Jenny Keel. By James Mayfield.

He was 18. “It was an interesting learning situation. We played six half-hour shows six days a week for seven months. It really makes you get your chops down.”

Keel met Mark Vann and John Fowler in Fauquier County, VA., and started to explore progressive string music in their band, “Farmer’s Trust.”

They played the festival circuit in Virginia, West Virginia, and North Carolina. Keel and friend Will Lee, son of Ricky Lee from Ralph Stanley’s band, formed Magraw Gap.

Keel says at that point, he and the musicians hadn’t quit their day jobs.

Mark Vann moved to Telluride, Colorado to join the ultra progressive electric Bluegrass band Leftover Salmon. He encouraged Keel to try playing at the Telluride Bluegrass Festival. Keel entered and won first place in the guitar competition.

Magraw Gap did their first studio recording. The band won the 1995 band competition at Telluride.

“Telluride’s a great stepping stone, a good place for a musician to launch a career. There’s a lot of prestige with it. There are some high end musicians there, too. I was proud to be part of it.”

He was playing among the likes of John Hartford, Sam Bush (post-New Grass Revival) and Bill Monroe at Telluride to name a few.

Other musicians of note began using Keel or his band as supporting musicians. He formed The Larry Keel Experience in 2000 with fellow musicians Will Lee and Jason Krekel. He says the name came from the various incarnations of the band, sometimes a trio, foursome, or whatever. To date, he has recorded 10 of his own self-produced projects, most recently two with his ensemble Natural Bridge which includes wife Jenny. He has collaborated on several projects with Keller Williams’ Keller and the Keels and collections of guitar-oriented projects released by Flatpicking Guitar Magazine. Del McCoury and Acoustic Syndicate have recorded his original material. His “Mountain Song” was on Del McCoury Band’s 2005 Grammy-winning The Company We Keep. He was part of a documentary in 2004 called “Larry Keel: Beautiful Thing.” In 2004, he and his brother Gary released “Keel Brothers.”

In his teaming for this tour with Adam Aijala, Keel says Aijala and his band Yonder Mountain come from a dissimilar background, one of punk, rock and metal. He says they play a popular tune to the younger crowd, then throw in a traditional Bluegrass tune, introducing a new generation to the genre.

“He grew up in Boston and takes a whole different approach to acoustic guitar. The last five or six years they’ve been opening the eyes of young people to their Bluegrass. The show is me and Adam on two guitars. We do original songs and some pretty diverse covers to keep it interesting. It’s very high energy. And we like audience participation.”

Keel says he plays everything and uses a Bluegrass band to do it. He says a song may have jazz or reggae mixed in it. He’s got a list of 1,000 ready tunes to pick from.

Show Information:
Larry Keel and Adam Aijala
Wednesday, May 5th
7:30 doors open; Performance 9 p.m.
Shepherdstown Opera House
131 W. German Street
Shepherdstown, WV
Tickets: $20. 304-876-3704

Read Full Post »