“Experienced” by Larry Keel

Larry Keel
Experienced
Self–released
4 stars (out of 5)

By Larry Stephens

Keel kicks things off with a blistering instrumental, “Ripchord,” composed by banjoist Will Lee with mandolin by Sam Bush. If you had any questions about musicianship, they are answered immediately.

Keel has mostly leaned towards progressive string music, something Bush is very familiar with. If you own a music store, that makes it hard to decide which section to use for his CDs. In 1990 he and Lee formed Magraw Gap which he left late in 1996 to form the Larry Keel Experience. By 2003 he’s appearing with Leftover Salmon and Yonder Mountain String Band. A highlight came in 2006 when the Del McCoury Band won a Grammy for “The Company We Keep” which featured Keel’s single, “Mountain Song.” He’s stayed busy through the years since and is now releasing this seven–track CD, which includes upright bass and vocals by Larry Keel’s wife Jenny Keel.

Lee composed two additional cuts including “Another Summer Day,” featuring the CD’s sound engineer, Jeff Covert, on percussion and Anders Beck doing a great turn on Dobro. This is a quiet, sentimental song, quite a contrast to “The Warrior,” composed and sung by Keel. Keel has a gravelly voice that’s distinctive but will never make him a balladeer, though “Memories” comes closer than any other cut. Peter Rowan guests on “The Warrior” with some background sounds mixed in with the Kaw–Liga beat. It’s different.

“Lil Miss” is a bluesy number with Keel singing lead with his gravel–pit voice. It’s a cut that’s as much about the music as the lyrics. He has a style all his own on the guitar but there’s no doubting his skill. The bluegrass number features Del McCoury and Jason Carter with Mike Guggino. “Fill ’Em Up Again” is another Lee composition extolling some great moonshine. Carter does his usual excellent job on the fiddle.

If you like excellent instrumental work you’ll enjoy what you hear on this CD.

Larry Keel