Artist: Larry Keel
Hometown: Lexington, Virginia for the past 24 years.
Latest album: American Dream, out November 6, 2020
Personal nicknames (or rejected band names): My wife and I call each other “Ange” (pronounced “Aynge” with a long “a”) other nicknames are “Doghead” and “Late-night Man.”
What’s your favorite memory from being on stage?
My favorite memory is standing next to two of my heroes that I had studied all my life up to that point, and getting to collaborate and share in the music we made together on stage… I’m speaking of Tony Rice and Vassar Clements, during a period in my career when both of these iconic musicians played regularly in my band. Other major moments I cherish and will never forget are playing with Little Feat in Jamaica on a beach in Negril, playing Carnegie Hall in New York, playing Red Rocks Amphitheatre, and getting to play live music with my wife and my brother all throughout my career.
What other art forms — literature, film, dance, painting, etc. — inform your music?
I truly love to paint! Bob Ross got to me early in my childhood, and he’s still all up in my soul. I paint with watercolors, markers, pens, anything when I feel the urge. I guess poetry also influences my music, because I lean on that literary form for my songwriting. And I’m currently getting more into designing a meal and preparing the food, then plating it artistically.
What was the first moment that you knew you wanted to be a musician?
I knew I had to be a musician when I was little and I started paying more attention to my father and older brother playing (they both played guitar, my father also played banjo and sang). I loved watching them have such a good time and I could see how everyone playing music with them or listening to them all enjoyed it so much. Then, when I was 7, my brother bought me a guitar, helped me get started with chords and positions, and I never set the instrument down…I was hooked from then on.
If you had to write a mission statement for your career, what would it be?
The mission is to let the art take me and everyone listening on a journey together, to get us all on the same page for the time we’re connecting through the music. If I had to give myself or a budding musician advice, I’d say be ready to work HARD. Do your music and your business your own way. Let your own instincts and your own style guide your decisions. I’m a big believer in “march to the beat of your own drum…” and, be frugal and be kind.
Which elements of nature do you spend the most time with and how do those impact your work?
I spend lots of time in the garden, right here at my home. It’s such a zen feeling to plant seeds, nurture them, watch them grow and then enjoy the fruits and veggies of mine and my wife’s labor. Fishing and being on any water is another zen-like activity that keeps me grounded. All in all, I try to spend as much time as possible in nature, because it charges up my “feel-good” and gives me a connection to something timeless and eternal. I’m always trying to tap that genuine energy when I write and play music. That’s the goal.
Photo credit: Lyric Photography