Larry Keel is described by some reviewers as the most powerful, innovative and all-out exhilarating acoustic flat-picking guitarist performing today. Keel has absorbed the best lessons from his Bluegrass family upbringing, both sides deeply steeped in the rich mountain music culture and heritage of Southwest Virginia. From there, he has always integrated that solid musical grounding and natural-born talent with his own incomparable approach to flat-picking the guitar and composing original music. He’s also got a knack for choosing interesting and appealing material from all realms of music with guts, whether it’s a tune written by a fellow song-writer/musician friend, or a tasty cover from any number of genres all over the map. The combination is pretty irresistible, and has earned Keel the highest respect and billing among the top acoustic musicians alive, and some now gone: Tony Rice, Chris Thile, Vassar Clements, Sam Bush, Del McCoury, John Hartford, Bill Monroe, Peter Rowan and Darol Anger to name a few. And his fierce, high-spirited energy also appeals to young rockers, jammers and alt country pickers and fans who are equally drawn to Keel’s deep rumbling voice, his earthy and imaginative song-writing, and his down-home-gritty-good-time charm. Keel regularly collaborates with Jam Band and Rock giants Yonder Mountain String Band, Keller Williams, Jorma Kaukonen, David Nelson, Little Feat, Rebirth Brass Band, Dirty Dozen Brass, Railroad Earth, members of String Cheese Incident and Leftover Salmon, amongst others.
Joining the award-winning Flat-pickin legend to make up Natural Bridge are the vastly talented Mark Schimick on mandolin and vocals, Larry’s life-long picker pal (and fishing phenom) Will Lee on soulful, blues-grass style 5-string banjo and penetrating lead vocals, and wife Jenny Keel with her impeccable timing and solid, yet imaginative bass lines as well as tenor vocal harmonies. Keel has a variety of formats swirling around the calendar each year; look out for Larry Keel solo, Keels duo, Keller and the Keels, the Keel Brothers, Keel with Danny Barnes and Drew Emmitt, Keel and Adam Aijala or Jeff Austin (YMSB), an occasional Keel trio, and many other special guests added to the mix.
Throughout his career, Keel has released 14 albums and is featured on 10 others. The most recent release, March 2012, is CLASSIC, the 3rd album recorded by Keel and his powerhouse ensemble, Natural Bridge. The project is filled with originals written variously by Keel, the band members or by musician/song-writer friends. Keel recently launched a new event concept and website, Fishin and Pickin, which combines two unique but thoroughly complementary pleasures: the satisfying thrill of sports fishing, and the energizing intensity of live music. The musician fisherman or even the fishin music-lover will find up-to-date, useful and amazingly entertaining music tips, tablature, show calendars and links to like-minded acts and artists, plus new music downloads. Larry’s also been involved in the development of Fishin N Pickn Workshops and Camps, hosted on live water properties, that teach pickin musicians how to advance their ‘chops’ on their instruments, and having the chance to catch some big fish in the process. Bass and Grass has been taking place in Georgia each year in the fall, always with a fantastic roster of musician-instructors, and outstanding bass fishing! Similarly, Keel hosts Trout and Tunes in May each year, featuring fishing styles and mountain-music study and entertainment all set in the misty mountains of West Virginia.
For Keel the musical mission is always clear: to let technical skill, honest emotion and fearlessness connect the playing and singing to audiences, to entertain and to thoroughly enjoy the experience of creating and sharing in music.