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February 6, 5:31 PMCharlotte Music ExaminerMonty Chandler

www.examiner.com

Jeb Puryear of Donna the Buffalo performs at the Neighborhood Theatre Feb 5th, 2010

Numerous opportunities for great live music were on tap for Charlotte music lovers Friday night.  The down side is you really had to choose which artists you were going to see from a talented selection available.

To maximize viewing opportunities, this writer chose to see Donna the Buffalo with Split Lip Rayfield opening at the Neighborhood Theatre.  That show started at 8PM.  Then at 11:20PM I snuck out of that show and headed across the street to the Evening Muse to see StephaniesId at 11:30.

Split Lip Rayfield is a three person Americana band out of Witchita, KS.  The group are made up of Eric Maris on Banjo; Wayne Gottstine on Mandolin; and Jeff Eaton on a single string Gas Tank Bass.  That’s right – a Gas Tank Bass made from the gas tank of an old car.  Check out the photos to see for yourself!  The guys sounded great with a definite folk rock progressive beat that had a large audience on their feet.

Photos of the Split Lip Rayfield performance..

The headliner for the night is the legendary Americana group and music festival favorite Donna the Buffalo.  The herd was definitely present and accounted for tonight!  Bluegrass, folk, zydeco, rock and lovely ballads were the rich mixture of diverse music emanating from this very talented group of musicians.  Normally the vocals for the group are split between Jeb Puryear and Tara Nevins, but tonight Tara had no voice.  She was barely able to speak.  Whispering with her before the show, she was disappointed in not being able to sing, but realizing there really wasn’t much she could do about it (other than make it worse by trying to sing) she took it in stride and decided that the show must go on.  That meant that Jeb would carry the load.  Something he did masterfully I might add!

Donna the Buffalo members are Jeb Puryear (vocals & guitar); Tara Nevins (vocals, guitar, electric fiddle, accordian,& scrubboard); Vic Stafford (drums); David McCracken (keyboards); Jay Sanders (bass).  Check out their sound on their MySpace page!

Photos of the Donna the Buffalo performance..

Then it was on to the Evening Muse to to enjoy the unique pop rock sound that belongs to StephaniesId.  With a set decorated in a little fluffy girlie stuff, the band set out to entertain a large audience with an almost 90 minute set of fan favorites ranging across all three of the bands albums.  StephaniesId is Stephanie Morgan (vocals, guitar); Chuck Lichtenberger (keys, vocals); Tim Haney (drums); Jacob Rodriguez (Saxophone); Justin Ray (Trumpet, French Horn).  An excellent horn section sets this group apart!

Photos of the StephaniesId performance..

Keepin’ it live,

Monty Chandler

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by Monty Chandler

October 23, 2:38 PM

Charlotte Music Examiner www.examiner.com

Larry Keel & Natural Bridge @ the Visulite Theatre         © Monty Chandler

Larry Keel & Natural Bridge @ the Visulite Theatre © Monty Chandler

Larry Keel & Natural Bridge brought their world class Bluegrass performance to Charlotte’s Visulite Theatre thursday night. The show featured Larry Keel as the master guitarist; his talented wife Jenny Keel on the Upright Bass; long-time friend, associate, co-writer and Mandolinist Mark Schimick; Louisiana native and Banjo master Jason Flournoy.

As a group, Larry and the Natural Bridge members have spent much of 2009 touring and promoting their latest CD release “Backwoods” which has met with critical acclaim across the Bluegrass and Americana national music scene. These guys drive bluegrass to the edge with their song selection, unique material and technical competency on their instruments – man that just doesn’t even cover how good they are!

Photos of Larry Keel & Natural Bridge’s Visulite performance.

Before the show, I sat down with Larry for a short chat while he waited for his to-go dinner to arrive at the Visulite. Life on the road – arrive, unload gear, perform sound-check, grab a bite to eat, deliver the goods in a solid performance – and fit an interview in there as well. Larry was extremely gracious with his time, grounded in his interaction, and thoughtful of the people who make what he does possible.

Larry Keel @ the Visulite Theatre by Monty Chandler

Larry Keel @ the Visulite Theatre by Monty Chandler

Larry has a fun-filled, yet busy, calendar planned for the remainder of 2009 with the Jourma Kaukonens Guitar Camp at the Fur Peace Ranch beginning later in October. Larry supports the Camp as an instructor and mentor for novice and accomplished guitar players alike. Following that the band has 6 shows within the Virginia / Carolina area, several with Tony Rice, before heading over to the Pacific Northwest for 5 shows at the beginning of December. Larry Keel & Natural Bridge will close this year and begin the next with a New Year’s Eve celebration in Asheville, NC.

While bluegrass music has traditionally had an appeal to people of all ages from 18 to 80, I wondered about Larry’s views on the growth of the genre within today’s technology era. He’s already seen the changing dynamic involving trends in music sales transitioning from physical CD’s to online download. Larry shared, “Everything from marketing to sales to production is changing rapidly. Youth today don’t buy CD’s. They buy the song digitally and integrate it with their other devices. The internet helps drive visibility to the music, let’s folks experience it to know if they like it. ” With an audience that also listens to everything from Nine Inch Nails to Hip Hop to Reggae, Larry believes that bluegrass’ appeal is in its own diversity within the genre. “The young folks like the high energy songs and instruments used in bluegrass music. Technology allows for availability of the music and peoples access to that music”.


As a recognized flat-picking guitar master, song-writer, and band leader, Larry shared his thoughts about his roles as performer, teacher and student.    As a performer Larry feels it’s his responsibility to give it his all – “a selfless performance leaving everything on the stage”. Performing is Larry’s avenue for communicating his soul via a spiritual performances. As a teacher Larry gets “enormous pleasure from watching the student and observing their habits while providing them guidance in their achievement of what they want as a player”.  His role is to help them get better. Passing on what he knows and experiencing their joy brings Larry great satisfaction. As a student Larry feels he is in constant learning mode. It’s through “observation of others, from a solo singer performing in excellent tone, to Clapton’s range and rifts on his guitar, to listening to U2’s Edge. Observing how they achieve the emotions and communications of the point they are trying to get across in their music” that Larry continues to expand his music and appreciate others creativity.
Larry Keel @ the Visulite Theatre by Monty Chandler

Larry Keel @ the Visulite Theatre by Monty Chandler

This has been a very good year for Larry & Natural Bridge. Even with the recent release of their newest CD “Backwoods”, the band continues to work on fresh material with approximately 15 different songs under development. With several songwriters in the group, each knows what may fit the bands vibe and brings what they think will work to the table. This keeps it lively for everyone. Larry promises “fresh material throughout 2010”. An indepth article in Bluegrass Unlimited should be out in the February timeframe. He’s looking forward to working closely with Tony Rice and Peter Rowan throughout the year on new material. There’s even a “possibility” that we’ll see a new CD release from Kellar & The Keels in 2010. All new material – let’s keep our fingers crossed for that little prediction to come true! Larry also plans to stay active in the festival circuit next year. It’s his way of keeping in touch with all of the fans of bluegrass music – “shaking hands and meeting people is what it’s all about”. By far the thing that has Larry most excited at the moment is the work he’s doing with a project called Fishin’ & Pickin’. With fishing being his favorite past-time and along with mountain living brings him the balance needed in life, Larry explains that he “needed a way to turn the tables of Jenny’s insistence that pickin’ come before fishin’.   Best way to do that is form a company that allows for both”. The objective of this project is to integrate Larry’s expansive knowledge of everything fishing, from the how to the why to the where to the what with, Larry hopes to produce video with tips on the aforementioned aspects of the fine art of fishing. Putting the content on a Website (Fishin’ & Pickin’) that would feature fresh releases of music video every 30-45 days, pickin’ tips, and highlights of upcoming music events, as well as tackle tips and video of fishing trips to places like Alaska, Belize, Idaho, and Perry, GA. There’s a sparkle in Larry’s eye as he describes his vision for this new endeavor – with that passion there’s no doubting its success.

Photos of Larry Keel & Natural Bridge’s Visulite performance.

In closing our chat, just as Larry’s dinner arrives, he made it a point of asking me to include a humble “thank-you” to all the people who come out to the shows and support live music in their community. That’s what makes it possible for folks like him to do what they do and for the shows to exist.  For one, I’m glad he does it all!

Keepin’ it live,

Monty

Click to view a slideshow of Monty Chandler Photographs of LKNB

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October 7, 8:42 AMCharlotte Music ExaminerMonty Chandler

Mad Tea Party has just released a spooky Halloween EP titled “Zombie Boogie”.

The EP is a collectible 33 rpm 7″ vinyl record with a disturbing letterpress cover created at Hand-cranked Letterpress in Asheville, NC.  It also comes in a CD version!

The four tracks on the EP capture Jason Krekel (guitar, drums) and Ami Worthen (ukulele, guitar) at their most raw and rockin’.  With two original songs and two obscure covers, Zombie Boogie is cetain to get you in the mood for the Halloween season.  Copies of Zombie Boogie will be available at Mad Tea Party shows and through their website starting now! Also available in all the online digital stores.

The Mad Tea Party will be opening for Toubab Krewe October 30th at Charlotte’s Neighborhood Theatre.

side a) Zombie Boogie by Ami Worthen ’09; & Cemetery Stomp  side b) You Spooked Me by Jason Krekel ’09; & What’s The Matter?    guest Henry Westmoreland, Sax.  Engineered by Doug Williams.  Mastered by Seva.

Keepin’ it live,

Monty

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October 7, 7:55 AMCharlotte Music ExaminerMonty Chandler

Larry Keel - Photo by: © Just1Jenn

Larry Keel - Photo by: © Just1Jenn

Larry Keel & Natural Bridge will be performing at The Visulite Theatre in Charlotte on October 22nd ’09. The second studio project from the legendary flatpicker Larry Keel and his talented acoustic band ‘Natural Bridge’ is now available and will be featured as they perfom on this leg of their tour.

The CD titled “Backwoods” features 7 original compositions of the 10 tunes emphasizing explosive Bluegrass and Americana music. Keen penned 4 of the tunes while Natural Bridge’s mandolinist Mark Schimick contributed 2 tunes to “Backwoods”.

With “Backwoods”, Keel and his band deliver one of the most powerful performances heard in Acoustic American music. Make plans to see them deliver one of those performances on the 22nd at The Visulite!

Check back here shortly after the show for an update with an interview with Larry and the band as well as photos of the show!

Keepin’ it live,

Monty

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