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Posts Tagged ‘holiday season’

Thorough and fun interview with Larry Keel by NICK HARRAH For The Herald-Dispatch in Huntington. Nick also wrote a great review of Keller & the Keels “Thief” as well. Check out the album review here.

Below are long excerpts from the interview:

The holidays are a time for being thankful, being with family and friends and maybe doing some charity. It’s all these things too for flatpicking guitar master Larry Keel.

Talking over the phone the day before Thanksgiving from the mountains of Southwest Virginia, Keel, like many others this time of year, talked about being home for the holidays; thankfulness, charity and family came up right away.

Talk about progressive-yet-traditional bluegrass, touring with his wife and bassist Jenny Keel, and an insurance policy on his near-iconic beard, also came up.

Keel, with his band, Natural Bridge (Jenny Keel: bass/vocals; Mark Schimick: mandolin/vocals) and the help of his brother, his old friend Will Lee, are playing more than a few charity events over the holiday season.

Supporting causes ranging from a domestic violence shelter, to Toys For Tots, to a no-kill animal shelter benefit at the end of the month with his longtime friend and collaborator, the Fredericksburg, Va.-based “one-man jam band” Keller Williams, for Keel, already established as a kind of bluegrass deity for his fiery pickin’, it’s great to lend his music to great causes.

“It’s wonderful,” Keel said of playing the various benefit shows. “I really want to do as many of those as I can each and every year. It’s just special. I’m just extremely blessed and fortunate to be able take what I do and translate that across to people who are in need this time of year.”

Playing with Williams, whether it’s covering other people’s songs on “Grass” and “Thief,” or having Williams produce Keel’s 2009 record “Backwoods,” or playing some dude’s couch like they did for a contest this year, is always great, Keel said. Learning and playing a few of the 13 cover songs on “Thief” was a fun challenge for Keel.

“He picked out all the tunes and showed us versions of ’em and we got his arrangements down and went out and performed ’em,” he said. “A lot of the songs I’d never heard the original versions of, like (Marcy Playground’s) ‘Sex and Candy.’ We’d go out and play ’em and people would be singing along and I’d be like ‘I guess I’m the odd man out.’ I didn’t even know any of the words,” Keel said laughing. “We just had a great time being spontaneous.”

The most immediate shows were set to be ones with his older brother Gary, and Larry talked about the early influence on him.

“He bought me a guitar when I was 8 years old, and taught me how to play melodies and rhythm guitar and all that,” he said. “After all these years, getting to get back together to play shows with him over the holidays, it’s one of the most special times of the year for me. It’s super special.”

Talking about his exposure to progressive bluegrass and his incorporation of that into his love of traditional bluegrass, Keel explained how it all came together.

“Well, you know, I’ve always loved bluegrass, that’s definitely always been the heart and soul of my music,” he said. “But from an early age I’ve liked all kinds of music. From jazz to reggae to blues and rock and roll, of course. I guess listening to it so much and loving all those different styles, it just kind of crept into my music. Kind of infected it, in a good way, you know?

“I just love every kind of music. Well, most of it. This new country or new rock developed for record sales, it just doesn’t have a heart or a soul.”

Keel and Natural Bridge are joined by Keel’s old friend Will Lee from Keel’s first band, Magraw Gap, formed in the early 90’s.

“Will has come back out on the road with Natural Bridge and will be at the V Club show and at 123 as well,” he said. “We’ve been really excited about that. Will and I have been playing music together for 25 years or more, and there’s a great chemistry there; we read each other really well.”

New music is on tap for Keel and Natural Bridge in 2011, Keel said. The band will be releasing digital downloads of new songs off Keel’s website. And as Keel brings his bluegrass into the digital age, and as the fans change the way the industry works, Keel changes with them.

“It seems like a lot of the bands and the music industry itself has changed so much, just in the last five years,” he said. “People aren’t buying CDs like they used to; people all have iPods or a computer and can pick their favorite four songs off a record for 99 cents apiece. So we’re getting on that train. On my website we’ll have a whole page dedicated to 99 cent downloads where I’ll be releasing a new song every 30 days or so. So we can take our time with, produce correctly and release the real version we want to release, so we can have something fresh out there.”

And as Keel keeps putting his own contemporary spin on traditional bluegrass, looking back, he realizes making music is what he was bound to do.

“I heard a quote one time, some musician once said they can’t see themselves doing anything else,” he said. “It’s what I’ve always known I wanted to do.”

READ THE FULL ARTICLE HERE: http://www.herald-dispatch.com/life/x846271976/Larry-Keel-brings-band-to-the-V-Club-to-support-various-charities?i=0

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All year long, Larry and Jenny Keel & friends support lots of great causes including the cause AGAINST mountaintop removal with Appalachian Voices; pick up an “I Love Mountains” sticker at one of their shows!  Last weekend, on Nov 27th, Larry and his brother Gary Keel played the Annual Toys for Tots Party to benefit the Rappahannock Council on Domestic Violence. The Keels are involved in two other music-filled benefits for the holiday season as well -see below for press release details- please join them if you’re in the areas!

The Work’s 9th Annual Christmas Jam Benefit Show Saturday, December 18th

The Greenville based, six-piece band The Work return to The Handlebar again for their 9th Annual Christmas Jam Benefit Show, an Upstate tradition since 2002. This Feature Holiday Event will take place on Saturday, December 18, 2010 at The Handlebar in Greenville, SC and all proceeds raised go to benefit the Ronald McDonald House Charities of the Carolinas, a “home away from home for families of critically ill children receiving treatment at area hospitals.”

This year’s Christmas Jam will feature music by The Work, with performances by a veritable treasure trove of guest musicians. And this is part of the allure of the event, the ever changing line-up of musicians. According to Craig Sorrells, “every Christmas Jam brings great memories for me with the completely unusual arrangement of musicians that come and perform with us.” The band is very excited about this year’s line- up as it includes such world renowned musicians as: Larry & Jenny KeelCurtis Burch (New Grass Revival), Tom Gray (Delta Moon), and many more to be announced. Also joining this year will be several regional & local musicians including, but not limited to the Shane Pruitt BandDoug Jones (Cravin’ Melon), Jonathan LloydJeff HollandViolet & The Beauredarde’sTez Sherrard, plus many others. As well, there will be special surprise guest musicians making appearances during Christmas Jam.

In its previous 8 years of operation, The Work’s Christmas Jam has raised $40,000 for local charities.

www.handlebar-online.com
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Keller Williams’10th Annual SPCA Benefit on Sunday December 26th

Before the NYE run kicks-off, Keller Williams brings his three-set extravaganza to his hometown of Fredericksburg, VA for his annual holiday concert to benefit the SPCA. To celebrate the ten year anniversary of the event, which will take place on December 26 at the Fredericksburg Field House, Keller has invited local marching band Elby Brass to join the show for set break music. 100% of the concert’s profits will go to support The Fredericksburg Regional SPCA. Less than 3% of The Fredericksburg Regional SPCA’s budget is received from the City of Fredericksburg, forcing the branch to rely almost solely on individual and corporate donations and fundraising events like this. The Fredericksburg Regional SPCA is a “no-kill” shelter whose mission is to tackle the problem of pet overpopulation through education, adoption, rehabilitation and spay/neuter.
  • Set I will be reggae, dub and funk versions of Keller favorites with Jay Starling on keys, Mark D on drums and Keller on bass
  • Set II will feature the bluegrass stylings of Larry Keel on guitar and his wife Jenny on bass with Keller playing his mini twelve-string (wanna-be mandolin) guitar.
  • And Set III will be old school Keller on acoustic guitar with his trademark looped-out dance grooves. Big screen video visuals will be provided by Scott Sunn.
Find out more about Keller’s holiday tour here.

Show Specifics:
Sunday, Dec. 26th, 2010
Fredericksburg Regional SPCA Benefit
Fredericksburg Field House in Fredericksburg, VA
Doors at 7pm, show at 8pm
$25, All ages
www.fredfieldhouse.com

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