Out of the 'Backwoods'

Larry Keel and Natural Bridge to perform at sold-out concert

Larry Keel and Natural Bridge to perform at sold-out concert

March 05, 2009|By TIFFANY ARNOLD

BLUE RIDGE SUMMIT, Pa. - Fresh out of the "Backwoods," flatpicking guitarist Larry Keel is headed to Pennsylvania for a sold-out solo show Sunday at Unique Bar and Grill.

Northern Virginia-based folk rockers Herb & Hanson are the opening act.

Keel and his bluegrass ensemble Natural Bridge have been touring in promotion of their latest album "Backwoods," a collaborative effort between Keel and Keller Williams, a bluegrass buddy from his childhood.

Still, Keel said sometimes he likes to perform solo. So Sunday, Keel will go at it alone.

"I can really get to know my own music," Keel said in a recent phone interview between tour stops.

Keel has been regarded as an up-and-comer in the bluegrass scene since the 1990s. While "Backwoods" will be Keel's second album with Natural Bridge, 40-year-old Keel has more than two dozen albums and many, many other credits to his name.

Most notably, Keel penned "Mountain Song" on The Del McCoury Band's album "The Company We Keep," which won a 2005 Grammy for Best Bluegrass Album.


Keel took time to chat with The Herald-Mail before the Pennsylvania show.

He said that on Sunday, he would sneak in some unreleased works-in-progress, in some ways giving fans what they expect: some throwback bluegrass and a knack for letting his mind musically wander. Keel said he'll play some rock covers and a bit of reggae.

"Reggae music and bluegrass are pretty similar," Keel said.

Keel said a solo project and more projects with Natural Bridge are in the works. For now, the ensemble will be hitting the tour circuit pretty hard.

Q&A with Larry Keel

As a songwriter, do you ever wish something you've written and performed won a Grammy? Or is it equally as satisfying to have something you wrote for someone else win a Grammy?
I'd love to win a Grammy myself, but it's great satisfaction that some piece of you, some of that magic is acknowledged by someone.

Do you plan to test out some new original stuff at the new show?
It's funny you ask me that. Actually, I have five, new, original tunes I'm trying to bang out. I will probably sneak in one or two a night.

When you're testing out works-in-progress, how much do you take into account how the audience reacts?
You can't win everybody over. That's just the sad fact of it. But I definitely will take it into consideration.

So what is your approach to recording? Do you try to recreate how you sound on stage or do you go for something different on a studio album?
I try to get what we're performing at. I feel that with our CD, the CD is very reflective of our performance. I don't want it to have a listless vibe to it, ever.

Larry Keel

Genre - Bluegrass

Hometown - Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia

Upcoming show - Sold-out show Sunday, March 7, at Unique Bar and Grill, Blue Ridge Summit, Pa.

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