Larry Keel to perform in Keystone for Bluegrass & Beer
IF YOU GO
What: Keystone Bluegrass & Beer Festival
When: Saturday, Aug. 6 to Sunday, Aug. 7
Where: Keystone Resort
Cost: Entrance is free; beer mugs for sampling available for purchase
The Larry Keel Experience will perform on Sunday, Aug. 7 at 3:30 p.m.
Larry Keel has been playing music most of his life ever since his father and older brother taught him to play guitar at a young age. In his home state of Virginia, he dedicated his time to performing, eventually collaborating with many well-known artists in the industry including Keller Williams, Sam Bush, Peter Rowan and members of Leftover Salmon and Yonder Mountain String Band.
After more than a dozen of his own albums and guest features on many more, the flatpicking guitarist has made a name for himself in the bluegrass scene and beyond.
The Larry Keel Experience will perform at the Keystone Bluegrass & Beer Festival on Sunday, Aug. 7 at 3:30 p.m. in River Run Village. The 20th anniversary of this festival features a host of breweries and performances from more than a dozen bands Aug. 6-7. Entrance to the festival and music is free, with beer mugs for sampling available for purchase.
Summit Daily News: Music runs in your family — did you ever think about doing anything else, or was it always about the music?
Larry Keel: When I started out playing music, I always loved playing and knew it was what I wanted to do the rest of my life. As a young man, unfortunately, when you’re building the whole thing, you don’t give up your day job at that point. Made do for a while at my younger age, and it all started working good — managing everything correctly and it took off. Built the career I’ve had for about the last 25 years.
SDN: Everyone has different variations and terms for their bluegrass music, how would you define your music?
LK: I try to stay away from labeling as much as possible. … I sort of define it as new and old mountain music because I write a lot of it, and pretty much what we got going on now is, we’re pretty much a rocking situation. There’s bluegrass here and there, but it’s loud, powerful dancing rock and roll at this point.
SDN: Do you feel like you have an agenda with your lyrics in your songwriting?
LK: Yeah, I do. My agenda of everything is I try to sit down about twice a week … and dedicate those days to writing with all kinds of different writers in the big market today. Trying to write with members of Leftover Salmon and Fruition and Greensky Bluegrass, a lot of my friends and everything. I admire their writing, and they like mine, as well. It’s nice writing with them and always tapping into that and trying to find something different.
SDN: Out of all of your collaborations with different musicians, do you feel like there is one artist or group that has had the most influence on you and your music?
LK: I can’t say that one would, but I can say that all of the collaborations definitely have a tremendous influence on my music. I just really get to play with so many wonderful musicians, it’s just an honor and such a pleasure to learn from all of them and try to give back to all of them, like Sam Bush, Danny Barnes, Drew Emmitt … I love each and every one of them.
SDN: You’ve done a lot of work with Keller Williams, how do you think he has impacted your music?
LK: We sort of started out a lot in the same in Virginia area just trying to build a music scene. Keller has always been inspiring for not having any boundaries and just being the ultra-creative force that he is. He’s just a powerful musician, and it influences me all the time to give it all I got.
SDN: What drives you to continue touring year after year, and does it ever get tiring?
LK: It doesn’t really get tiring to me at this point because I’ve created a good tour model to where I like where I play and I like what I play, and I don’t feel like I’m wearing myself out. Also, I try to keep my health in total check and exercise and eat well and try have the very best energy I can have for each performance.
SDN: What was your first strong memory of knowing you wanted to be a performer?
LK: It would go back to my days in my teenage years of playing an Old Fiddler’s Convention here in Virginia called the Galax Fiddler’s Convention. I think they are in their 90th-some year this year. People from all over the world go there and compete and play music and everything. You get to step up in front of a very large crowd and play music, and seeing the response from that really sent it into my blood that that’s what I wanted to do.
SDN: What would you like the audience to walk away with after your show?
LK: I’d love for them to walk away with knowing that we were all on the same brain wave, and that we had an amazingly good time and hope they feel loved, and I hope they feel pumped up and maybe a little scared here and there and definitely a lot wild after the show. We try to hit them with everything we got.
SDN: What do you feel like your biggest accomplishment has been so far?
LK: I would have to say touring with my wife all these years and creating a life together that we love, and that we share that love with everyone. And that I get to do this as a profession.
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