Keel talks with the Brewgrass Chronicle about his new album “American Dream”
For more than 25 years Larry Keel has been a self-described “road dog.” So when the Covid-19 pandemic forced the cancellation of shows he had booked literally all over the world, a guy who was seldom at home suddenly found himself not just stuck at home, but there with more time on his hands than he knew what to do with.
Keel did what a lot of us did. He went fishing. He worked in his garden. And he spent a lot of time sitting and thinking. A lot of that thinking was done with a banjo in hand, and what started out as reflecting on his 52 years on the planet became the treasure trove of new songs that make the core of his new album, “American Dream,” which will formally be released Nov. 6.
The banjo part of that story is probably a bit of a surprise to some of Keel’s fans. Most know Keel for his work on six strings, not five. One of the finest flatpickers currently walking the Earth, Keel’s guitar play is legendary. But it turns out, he does most of his songwriting on a banjo.
As you might guess, he is pretty good on the banjo, too. Ditto for the mandolin. Want proof? Listen to the new album. Keel recorded it in his home studio and did it pretty much all himself. Steve Hevener, his longtime road manager, sound man, merch guy, van driver and Swiss Army knife pushed a few buttons on the console. And they took the finished tapes over the Shenandoah Mountains to Wally Cleaver Studios in Fredericksburg, Va., where Jeff Covert did the mixing and mastering. But every note on the album, every instrument and every bit of vocals, is Larry.
Even the bass, despite the fact that his wife, Jenny, who has been his bass player since the mid-1990s, was quarantined with him.
“She was the muse,” Keel says with a laugh, “This was something I wanted to approach strictly me, no one else’s ideas.”
Keel will have some help from Jenny and mandolinist Jared Pool when he rolls into B Chord Brewing in Round Hill, Va. Saturday night for what is being billed as the new album’s release party. Frank Solivan and Dirty Kitchen will open the festivities, which will on B Chord’s outdoor stage. You can find ticket information on B Chord’s facebook page.
The new CD will be available at the show. You can also pre-order it now on Keel’s web site. Pre-orders there include free shipping and a digital download in addition to the CD.