Larry Keel: The Greatest Musician You've Never Heard Of...

There is a growing legend in music about a man and his guitar and his name is Larry Keel. In Western North Carolina Larry has been elevated to icon status with those who appreciate good, solid, hand crafted music. It seems like everywhere you go and everything you hear in these parts Larry's music is the theme music that's playing in background. If you were to ask anyone on the streets the simple phrase "Local Musician" Larry's name is certain to be at the top of that list. Why Larry Keel is a household name is quite simple. Larry's down-home recipe of Flat Pick style guitar, prolific songwriting, guest appearances, and a honest commitment to his fans, loyal or new, is why he has such a special place in the hearts of music lovers world wide.

Born and raised in the Blue Ridge mountains of Virginia, Larry Keel has traversed the globe bringing Bluegrass, Blues, and Folk music to countless satisfied audiences with his trusty guitar and mind altering fret work. From his first band Magraw Gap (who took the band competition at the Telluride Bluegrass Fest. In 1996, Larry taking the Flat Pick Championship as well that year and in 1994) to appearing with Sam Bush, Acoustic Syndicate and Keller Williams to now making harmonic waves with the Larry Keel Experience, Larry has charted a musical course that most folks can only dream of navigating.

This year will bring some greatly anticipated material from Larry Keel including his latest CD release 'Journey' and a documentary film on Larry and the band called 'Beautiful Thing: A Year In the Life of the Greatest Musician You've Never Heard Of'. Needless to say there are some very excited fans chomping at the bit for these morsels!

Larry Keel is a very humble and honest man and I had the great honor finding that out first hand when we spoke a few days ago. If you are new to the man and his music then you will find Larry's past as intriguing as his bright future. I'll not delay an longer and let Larry tell about himself in his own words.

S. Remington [SR]: Did you grow up listening to more traditional music styles or was this a developed attraction for you?

Larry Keel [LK]: I grew up mainly listening to traditional types of music whether it be old Country music from the forties and fifties or Bluegrass and Old Time. My dad played banjo and guitar.my brother played guitar and accompanied him. So I definitely grew up listening to those styles of music.

SR: Did your family play together in a band, like in the gospel tradition?

LK: Not really, we just played as a family at gatherings or around in the country at cook-outs or down at the fire department or VFW. We'd go down there and play music for them all and just have a good time...and that's how I got my chops...

SR: I was wondering, while you were learning to play guitar if the Flat Pick style was something that you were aiming at or was it something that evolved over time?

LK: When I started playing my brother gave me most of the technique that I started developing with the Flat Pick. I liked different finger-style guitar players like Merle Watson and Merle Travis... ALL the Merle's... [Laughs from both], but I gradually went towards the Flat Pick style, I always loved it...

SR: I understand the early in your career you were contracted to play at Disneyland Tokyo?

LK: Yeah [chuckles] When I was eighteen years old a friend of mine, who was older than me but went to school with my brother, had been living in Florida for two or three years and was reading through a newspaper and saw an ad for musicians wanted. He answered the ad and found out that was Disneyland in Tokyo, Japan. He called me up and asked if I wanted to audition, which I did. They liked what they heard so we went over there for about seven months. It was incredible

SR: I've been listening to your new release 'Journey' and I wasn't expecting electric guitar and was pleasantly surprised as well at all the different influences on the album itself like Reggae, Swing, Ragtime and Blues. Was this intentional experimentation for the Larry Keel Experience?

LK: Well, some of it's new and some of it's been with me from the beginning. I was just like any other kid with a Telecaster, you know. But, eventually, from sticking to my guns with the acoustic thing I wanted to delve into other areas that I've always been into. I just wanted to do some new recordings and see how it all would turn out.

SR: I was curious if you and The Experience took these new experimental sounds for the band out to your audience before the CD release, like a road test?

LK: Oh yeah. We handle it on a night by night basis since The Experience changes a lot. One night we'll have Jason Krekel [Snake Oil Medicine Show] and maybe Big Daddy [Steve McMurry from Acoustic Syndicate], we keep it rotating around.. It's a really true representation of all of our musical influences and inspirations....

SR: Have The Larry Keel Experience just come off of the road recently on a stretch of shows?

LK: Yeah, even though we stay almost continually on tour. We're just really trying to stay established and grounded in the music scene right now which is vast with talent at the present time. We've got a big year coming up as well...

SR: I understand that there is documentary film coming up about you in the near future. Is that true?

LK: Absolutely! It's been produced by Brownpenny Films and it was filmed by a guy named James Ryan Gielen. It is a very life like representation of what it's like throughout the day in our band... the up's and the down's of being a touring band...

SR: So it's definitely away from a personal history of Larry Keel and right directly in the action... what it's like being on tour?

LK: Sure. It's about following us around the country...it took a full year and he took over two or three hundred hours of footage and then edited from there.

SR: Did it feel strange being on camera that often, was it uncomfortable?

LK: It became natural... Ryan really makes you feel comfortable and films in a very easy way that allows you to be yourself.

SR: Will the documentary be submitted to any film festivals?

LK: I think that it's been submitted to like ten festivals across the country. We're real excited that folks are getting a chance to see it.

SR: Do you see a DVD in the Larry Keel Experience future?

LK: I'm currently in the process of putting one together with live performance, interviews, and such. That should be out by next Christmas time [Winter 2004]. That's something to look forward to

SR: Is there anything else that's on the horizon for Larry Keel or the Experience, maybe something that you can give the readers a sneak peak?

LK: My brother and I have been collaborating more over the past few months and there's a Keel Brothers CD that we're getting ready to release. It's very cool, a more traditional take... This will be out in the beginning of March [2004], just in time for festival season

It was great to catch up with Larry Keel and gain insight into one of the greatest musical minds of our generation. Don't forget to check the Upstream below to all sorts of Larry Keel teasers and treats for some of the upcoming excitement revolving around him and the Experience. Make sure to get out and see the documentary film when it comes to your town and we'll do the same.

By: S. Remington
Article originally appeared on PhreshWater.com in 01/04


The Crystal Method: Inside The Legion of Boom

The Crystal Method is the closest thing to a European dance club group that America has to call their own. Their four albums have created a sound like no other. Many call them psychedelic, many call them groovy, but no matter what you call them, their sound has left a mark on the club circuit of America. In fact, it has left such a mark, that their recent release, Legion of Boom, has earned them five nominations from the 2004 DanceStar USA Awards. They include Best Act, Best Album, Best Single, Best Video, and Best Use of Music in a Television Show. I'd say that has left quite the impact.

The Crystal Method formed in Las Vegas where Scott Kirkland and Ken Jordan met. Scott a DJ, Ken a producer, they joined together to form the resurgence of American club music. With a touch of Rock, Hip-Hip, and electronic, the two began to mix beats and record together. After a move to Los Angeles, their careers began to move with their single, 'Now is the Time', which appeared on the City Of Angels soundtrack. Since then, they have had three albums, (Vegas, Tweekend, and Legion of Boom) numerous singles, and enough tours to make them know around the world.

Legion of Boom was released on January 13, 2004. The album has gained much praise by many, including Maxim Magazine saying “Their basic formula, waist-deep in electronica cliches, is nonetheless appealing: one part slinky female vocal loop, one part buzz saw synth riff, and four parts steady, ass-shaking beat's. It also gained respect from retailers, as Best Buy and Target had the album included in their weekly advertisement. Most importantly, the fans, have given it great success already, making it the number 1 album downloaded of itunes the day of its release. The 12 track album has a touch of everything combined from the last three records. 'Born Too Slow', the lead single has a rock feel to it while maintaining the dance club feel. Meanwhile, songs like 'Starting Over', 'True Gift', and 'Bound Too Long' have that true Club feel. Still songs like 'American Way' have the Hip-Hop feel. The variety on this album is unmatched by any other artist in the world and success has shown that through its first week.

I had a chance to talk to Ken recently, and here is what he had to say.

Brian: First of all congratulations on the recent nominations. Do the awards have an impact on how you decide to go about your careers?

Ken: I guess it doesn't effect what we do really, you know, we always try to make the best records for our self and for the fans before we start worry about any awards or anything, but we are real excited, we've been to the last two DanceStar's, the first one we won something, Best Act or something, and last year Scott and I presented last year, and this year we are going to perform live at the show so it should be fun.

Brian: How do you compare the new album Legion of Boom to your past albums?

Ken: You know I think it is a little closer sounding to Vegas, than Tweekend. Tweekend ended up being a little, little darker and heavier than we had wanted and so we went into this wanting to get away from that darker and heavier sound this time and have something a little more familiar closer to Vegas.

Brian: What inspired this album?

Ken: Well that's was one inspiration. We are always looking forward to making records since were done touring to promote the one before. That and things going on in the world and in our lives.

Brian: What are your plans for the next year?

Ken: Our tour starts the end of this month, no end of February. We will be touring through the summer and hopefully we will put out a new mix CD by the end of this year or early next year.

Brian: With the success of your album on itunes, how do you feel about the internet and music?

Ken: We were really excited about that, we beat out a lot of big name people. Yeah, we have always been net users forever, we really like itunes. We both like, we both buy songs off itunes and I think it is really helping artists that were being hurt from all the illegal downloads so we thought that was really great.

Brian: As a whole, what is the main goal for the crystal method in music?

Ken: We just want to keep making good records, records that Scott and I are happy with and that are fans are happy with.

Brian: If you had your choice, would you prefer studio work or live performances?

Ken: We are always going to make new studio albums, and we still really like touring, and we like eating it to, so for right now, we are just going to keep on doing everything.

Brian: With people like Tom Morello of Rage Against the Machine and Scott Weilard of Stone Temple Pilots appearing on your records, how do you decide who you want to work with your records on your records and has anybody turned you down?

Ken: We usual pick people based on, first of all what we need for the record or for a song. Also, we want to know the people now and we want to make sure they are into our music and we get along with them. All that is really important to us. I'm trying to think, has anybody every turned us down? I can't think of anyone that has turned us down before.

Brian: Is their anything you would go about differently on any of the albums?

Ken: No, I don't think I would change anything. Everything is a learning process and I think things are going pretty well so I don't have any regrets over any of the music or anything yet.

Brian: Is it hard to tour with Scott when he is married and you aren't?

Ken: No, it doesn't cause any problems.

Brian: How was performing for the first time opening for The Chemical Brothers?

Ken: I remember being so nervous, my hands were shaking. Like there was a spotlight and I could see my hands shaking so much. What I really learned, when your really nervous, drink a lot and you get less nervous.

With the release of Legion of Boom, and the upcoming tour which begins, The Crystal Method has a busy schedule in front of them. However, the busier you are, the most successful you are, so look for Legion of Boom to be a big seller, as well as earn them some respect in the music community. Tour Dates for the upcoming tour will be announced soon, so make sure to check www.TheCrystalMethod.com to see when they will be near you. Finally, expect 'American Way' to be the next single form Legion of Boom

by: Brian Kostek


Welcome Back Phriends!

Since the recent bad news that we had to pull PhreshWater.com off of the Internet as a full service music magazine a few of us have banded back together to bring you great independent music media again!

We will be making a lot of changes here at the blog site, which was in times past our editorial section only, so check back frequently. Here in the next coming days we'll be open again for submitted material and other great stuff for the readers. Also, I plan on posting a wealth of older material that we had previously published that is just too good not to archive, right here, for the world to read like interviews with The Crystal Method, Cyro Baptista, Ras Alan, Larry Keel and many more artists from our well over two years of archived material from PhreshWater.com

Stay tuned as we fine tune the operation!

S. Remington - Editor


Biodegradable Hemp CD Cases

From March 2004, jewel cases manufactured from the hemp plant will be available.

It is clear that the primary benefits will be environmental; hemp’s biodegradable status makes it a far more desirable material for production when compared with the billion or so CD trays currently made that have no environmentally friendly means of disposal.

The hemp plant is a viable alternative resource in many areas such as paper and plastics production; an acre of hemp produces as much pulp as four acres of trees and while it can take twenty years to once again grow trees on the same land, hemp can be grown and harvested in 90 days, twice a year. In our current climate of deforestation and global warming, such sustainability gives hemp a distinct advantage over products in many markets.

While it may until recently have been the preserve of a more classically environmentally conscious consumer, in recent years such things as the free press’ contribution towards a greater awareness of hemp’s manufacturing potential have helped lead it once more to the cusp of being a major industry; amongst others, Giorgio Armani, Mercedes and the Body Shop are just a few who currently use hemp-produced material in several of their products and it is likely that this pattern is to continue in many industries.

As a plant which can be grown and harvested year after year, hemp’s potential as a cash crop is on a scale of industries as vast as those of tea and coffee; such a widespread availability will (in addition to being environmentally desirable) result in hemp being a far more economical way to produce such products as mobile phone cases, computer cases, paper, clothing, jewel cases and so on.

It should also be recognised that hemp products are noted for their strength and durability (in the Second World War American farmers were ordered to grow hemp as part of the war effort where it was used to make parachutes, rope and many other essential materials). Hemp jewel cases have an added advantage over current petro-chemically produced ones in that logos can be embossed on them, providing the ability to further individualise the product in question, whatever it may be.

Now that the stranglehold of big business protecting its own interests is being loosened, hemp is ready to take its place as one of the twenty-first century’s biggest success stories.

More Information:
pictures/ orders/ samples
Paul Benhaim
www.hempplastic.com / paulb@hempplastic.com
02 6684 0066
0421 38 55 33

published with direct permission from the author


PhreshWater Readers and Phriends Worldwide

This is a very sad day for PhreshWater.com.
Staff members have lost their full-time jobs
due to the economic crisis in the USA and the
disrespect of GW Bush for the US Workforce.
After several days of discussing this issue
PhreshWater.com has made the extremely hard
decision to shut down indefinitely.

The past 2 years for us on the web have been
a magnificent journey into music as a whole
as we explored together it's many facets. Please
understand that PhreshWater.com was a labor of
love for music and we generated barely enough
to keep us afloat. The entire site has been
operated by unpaid staff and the best Intern
Staff on the planet.

If anyone has any ideas or knows of ways to
re-launch this endeavor we would love to hear
from you. We will keep the Editorial section
open so we can update everyone from time to time
and maybe, just maybe, you can swim with us again..

Peace and Love,

S. Remington - Editor
Comments or Questions?
Email us HERE


Legal Digital Downloads Earn Big Victory

Legally downloaded music has had its first major victory by outselling cassettes, vinyl, and DVD’s in January 2004. These amazing figures are leading to the great anticipation of the UK’s first Download Chart with the expected launch date coming soon. Read the full story HERE

I hope no one pats the ruthless RIAA thugs on the back or allow them to stick a feather in their own cap for this recent turn of the tide. Hopefully, informative independent media outlets will stand to take some credit for this great news and none given to those who drug middle class high school students into court because they were easy targets.


All Good Music Festival Moves to Summer

Top East Coast music festival to go
‘where those chilly winds don’t blow’

July 9-11 at Marvin’s Mountain in Masontown, WV

JEFFERSON CITY, MD. – Walther Productions is moving its flagship music festival, the All Good, into thick of the summer festival season, where the weather should be just as hot as its reputation as one of the East Coast’s premier campout music festival events.

The newly crowned ALL GOOD SUMMER Festival and Campout, traditionally held the weekend before Memorial Day, will celebrate its ninth annual edition Friday, July 9 through Sunday, July 11 at Marvin’s Mountaintop in Masontown, WV, the site of last year’s event.

The scenic 643-acre site attracted thousands of festival-goers last year to the wooded rolling hills of West Virginia just 15 miles southeast of Morgantown. But this year, promoter Tim Walther promises festival goers that they will not have to battle the cold weather complications that arrived in 2002 and 2003.

“Two years ago, we went from two inches of rain and 40 degrees one day to freezing temps and snow showers the next,” said Walther. “We certainly cannot control the weather, but we can assure you that it will not snow on this year’s All Good summer celebration. So come join us this summer in the luscious green rolling fields nestled high in the West Virginia mountains overlooking Cheat River at Marvin’s Mountaintop. The weather being cooler in the mountains promises to serve as a retreat from summer heat and humidity as opposed to the foundation for another Survivor episode.”

The ALL GOOD SUMMER FESTIVAL AND CAMPOUT will play host to the most spectacular roster of bands ever assembled by Walther Productions, recently voted Best Promoter in the Baltimore-DC region in the Music Monthly 2003 Year-End Readers’ Poll. Performers and ticket information will be announced shortly.

“I can’t figure out if I’m just shamelessly self-promoting or if I have cabin fever,” said Walther, whose winter activities have been confined to programming the all-new Funk Box in Baltimore and promoting at several theaters in the Baltimore-Washington corridor. “But I am real excited about this festival season …it’s gonna be a hot one.”


Chick Corea & Foo Fighters Team Up for Grammys

While driving home the other day I heard a very strange but satisfying version of Nirvana’s ‘All Apologies’ by Herbie Hancock on piano. I thought, ‘Now there is an interesting application for Jazz.’

Now I just overheard that Jazz giant Chick Corea is slated to accompany the Foo Fighters on piano during the telecast of the Grammy Awards being aired Sunday February 8, 2004 on CBS. Was the initial glimpse of Jazz, Nirvana and Dave Grohl an omen for things to come?

Read the full story HERE