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Larry Keel swings back through

By Staff | Feb 23, 2010

Talking to Larry Keel on the phone you’d never get the impression his fingers move as fast as they do. With a laid back, almost lazy, southern draw, Keel’s voice could put even the most active mind at peace.

But on stage, Keel’s virtuoso finger-picking has lit up the crowd across the U.S., winning awards nearly everywhere he’s gone.

Come March 5, he’ll be returning to the Mountain State with his Natural Bridge band, to play a show at one of his favorite West Virginia venues, The V Club in Huntington.

Graffiti: Tell us a little bit about what’s going on with you.

Keel: Man, we’re just super busy right now. I’m sure like you all, you’ve had plenty of snow already.

Graffiti: Yea, we’ve had quite a bit.

Keel: I’m sure like you all, we’ve been rushing around, trying to get out of it. We went down to Alabama and Florida and all that end of it, trying to get out of it at the end of January. And now it’s all snowing down there. You just can’t get away from it.

But every thing’s going fine. We’re just trying to get all of our festivals in line for the festival season. That’s all rolling pretty smooth. We’re playing up in Delfest in Maryland. I love them, the McCoury Boys.

There’s one called Hookahville in Ohio. We’re playing that one, too. That’s a pretty big one. I love getting outside. With this snow, it’s gonna feel good to get outside and shake that cabin fever.

Graffiti: Are you playing All Good this year?

Keel: I’m not sure about All Good yet, but we sure would love to. We’re just trying to play a whole bunch of them and we’re just telling people to keep their ears out to the Web site.

Graffiti: You play quite a few shows here in West Virginia. What keeps you coming back?

Keel: We love the people of West Virginia. We’ve been playing there a long time and we’ve made a lot of great friends, including the Davisson Brothers, which are some great friends of ours. They’ve been really great friends and have introduced us to a lot of great people in West Virginia. We just love it, man. It’s a beautiful state and love to come back as soon as possible.

Graffiti: What are some of your favorite places to play?

Keel: As far as West Virginia?

Graffiti: A little bit of both. Within the state and elsewhere in the country.

Keel: We love playing at the V Club because everybody’s so nice there and have a great time. Patrick and them really treat you good. They’re jut wonderful folks there. I like all the different venues we play. We love the festival scene and we get to play a lot of theaters all over. We like a place where we can get the audience to come out and feel comfortable and we can get everybody on the same brain wave and just have a good time with it. That’s what makes a place special for us.

Graffiti: For a musician that’s accomplished so much, what keeps you motivated to keep practicing, to keep striving for improvement?

Keel: I love a lot of types of music. I’ll get to hear a lot of incredible musicians in all my travels and i Know a lot of amazing musicians and I play in a band with a lot of amazing musicians. The guys in my band are always learning and keeping on top of new music.

I get inspired by all that, big time; wanting to write my own music and hear my own voice and what I have to say about things. It just all inspires me — everywhere I go and everything I do.

Graffiti: Now, you’re new album was produced by Keller Williams.

Keel: We had a bunch of songs down, probably like 25 songs, and I couldn’t figure out which ones I wanted to put on one CD. So I had to call Keller Williams — he’s an old friend of mine, we’ve done a lot of recording together — and he helped me hone it down to a real CD and get some continuity to it. He added some of his flair  and some of his imagination to it and it turned out the way it did. We’re really happy with it.

I’ll add this little note, too. We were just in the recording studio with Keller again to record the second Keller and the Keels CD. That’s hopefully to be released out by June or so.

Graffiti: That’s pretty exciting.

Keel: Yea, he’s a fabulous guy. I’ve known him a long time — old friends from the northern Virginia area.

Graffiti: Are there any other artists you’d like to collaborate with at some point?Keel: Oh yea, there’s so many of them. We’ve been doing a lot of shows with Tony Rice playing in our band. He’s such a master at what he does and he’s such a wonderful person. I’ve very excited that we have more of those coming up.

Got some shows coming up with Adam Aijala from Yonder Mountain String Band that we’re really excited about. We did a big run down the Pacific Northwest, just he and I on duet guitar. He’s really fun and it’s nice bending some ideas off somebody like that.

Contact Justin at jmcintosh@graffitiwv.com