Posts Tagged ‘Spring Street Music Hall’

Below are excerpts from a great review in the Middlesboro Daily News of Larry Keel and Natural Bridge from last weekend’s show at Johnson City, TN’s newest venue, The Spring Street Music Hall.

Trip on a Tank: Larry Keel and Natural Bridge light up Johnson City

by Adam Young www.middlesborodailynews.com
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JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. — The journey for music is a familiar occurrence in my contemporary life. The complete experience of travel, companionship and performance is truly something my heart yearns for often; and this weekend I satisfied my craving and witnessed a legendary group of Americana musicians in action for the first time.

Larry Keel and Natural Bridge brought their innovative sound to the recently-established Spring Street Music Hall on Saturday. The spacious venue had quite the crowd for only its second night in existence, bringing together a nice assortment of youth and tradition, and the approachable staff provided folks with a rich atmosphere, good beer selection and one quality sound system perfect for the Keel experience.

The Virginia-based ensemble, considered by many to be one of the most powerful, inventive and complete Americana groups performing today, lived up to all the word-of-mouth hype on Saturday night and delivered a dynamic performance — which was nothing short of spectacular.

Larry Keel, an award-winning flat picker and overall respected musician, along with his group Natural Bridge — consisting of the vastly talented Mark Schimick (mandolin and vocals), his wife Jenny Keel (upright bass and vocals) and Will Lee (banjo) — were vibrant from the beginning. It only took about six songs into the first set before the crowd livened up and hit the dance floor romping and stomping.

The mighty group lit up the stage for nearly three hours on Saturday night, with a brief intermission in between sets, and honestly there was never a dull moment. They played songs from across Keel’s extensive career and many traditional numbers — and even incorporated into the mix a few good-timin’ tunes from the likes of Tony Rice and Kenny Baker.

Moreover, both sets were overflowing with periods of experimental and improvisational jamming, and this presented each member with the opportunity to display their distinctive styles and talents (as a tribute to the greats).

On stage, the band puts out such unexplainable energy, and truly has a knack for taking traditional instrumentation and putting a complex, modern twist on it. Keel and Natural Bridge, as a whole, can transition from traditional tunes to reggae-like vibrancy with ease — which is like going from mountains to islands in mere musical moments — and there is never time for discontent or boredom.

Keel and his talented bunch are very particular in their approach, flawless in their execution, and a joy both on and off the stage. There is such freedom in the music that Larry Keel and Natural Bridge create, and this was sincerely a valuable experience.

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Adam Young is a staff writer for the Middlesboro Daily News. He can be contacted by e-mail at ayoung@heartlandpublications.com.

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Larry Keel and Natural Bridge

Thursday, Feb 10th ~ Gerstle’s Place ~ Louisville, KY

Friday, Feb 11th ~ Cosmic Charlie’s ~ Lexington, KY

Saturday, Feb 12th ~ Spring Street Music Hall ~ Johnson City, TN

Joining the award-winning Flatpickin legend, Larry Keel, to make up Natural Bridge are Mark Schimick on mandolin and vocals, Larry’s life-long picker pal (and fishing phenom) Will Lee on blistering banjo and otherworldly lead vocals, and wife Jenny Keel holding strong on upright bass and vocals. Jenny Keel has been playing bass with her husband and virtually all of his specialty projects for over 14 years, she is a player known for impeccable timing and solid, yet imaginative bass lines as well as adding tenor vocal harmonies.

“Hot and fluent bluegrass act showcasing Larry Keel’s dazzling guitar skills and gruff, baritone vocals, wife Jenny’s granite-firm bass guitar work and the support of top-shelf backing players. . . Good folks, amazing roots music.” ~ Tad Dickens

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