Birthday – analog style

This past Friday was Kim’s birthday. With working on the computer all day, keeping up blogs, and Kim on facebook, life has this way of feeling a little too digital, or virtualized. So. When I heard that Larry Keel was coming to the Coffee Pot (a mile or two down the road), it was an excellent excuse to unplug for a while.

Everybody say Happy Birthday to Kim, coupla days late.

Anyway, so Larry Keel has an “opening act”. You know how that goes. We never did catch the name of the band, but I called them RockBass just to have something to call them. Larry Keel is what they call “alternative bluegrass”, and his opening act was possibly in that same vein, but probably closer to rockabilly (spelled rockin-hillbilly). Just to give you an idea, when we came in, they were doing a rendition of Old Crow Medicine Show’s Cocaine (Tell It To Me). If RockBass was not Larry Keel, neither were they OCMS.

Here’s a picture of the band not called RockBass:

I want you to notice a couple of things here. First is that this is a bit of a rock band with a banjo and a mandolin. Which makes it, uh, not sure about that. The second thing to notice is that the band brought their own fans. You can see one between the first and second guys on the right. Very cool fans. Then, notice that the banjo player is barefoot. These boys have Craig County written all over them.¬† Next notice the bass player (the ‘bass’ in RockBass – the one in the blue) in his best Craig County Mennonite Laundry Day get up. Yikes. And then the drummer. Yes, there is a drummer. The drummer is also barefoot, and wearing a shirt like the banjo player. Hand me down I’d be willing to bet. These two have to be brothers.

But none of that really matters. I was treating Kim to a night out to hear Larry Keel, and not even a band not named RockBass was gonna stand in the way.In case you’re curious, though, here is what RockBass sounded like. It took me a while to identify the song, but this is “Down in a Hole”, by Alice In Chains. Somehow the sound on the camera turns out so much better than live. Live it was just distorted and nasty, it sounds so much cleaner in this recording.

I think we decided that RockBass ought to cover some Primus tunes, where quality of singing really doesn’t matter that much, and they can sing about stuff they like – fishing for example. Plus, the bass player would really get off on Primus, I’m sure.

It takes guts to get up on a stage, especially when you sing like that, and especially when there is no protective chicken wire between you and the audience, and especially before Larry Keel comes on.

Anyway, here’s Larry Keel and Natural Bridge doing a Del McCoury tune about moonshine. And a bear.

Everybody’s wearing ¬†shoes, no shirt sharing, and most of all, the music was excellent. Larry’s known for his mesmerizing flat picking. He’s the next best thing to Tony Rice, and a generation younger. Larry has played with many of the big name bluegrass acts out there, and lives locally in Natural Bridge, VA, central to a lot of bluegrass action. Nothin’ Fancy is from the same area. I first saw Larry at Snowshoe resort in West Virginia on July 4th, 2008 at a great bluegrass festival there, along with Del McCoury and Steep Canyon Rangers. I don’t actually own any of Larry’s CDs, and I don’t hear him on XM radio Bluegrass station at all. He’s definitely worth hearing, along with the rest of his band. The fiddle player I thought was particularly good.

Anyway, happy birthday to Kim!