New mountain music meets mando madness |

New mountain music meets mando madness

Andrew Harley
Special to the Daily From left to right: Rex McGee, Mark Schimick, Larry Keel, Tony Rice, Vassar Clements and Jenny Keel perform together at Springfest in Live Oak, Fla., in the spring of 2002. Keel and Yonder Mountain String Band's Jeff Austin put on a special show tonight at State Bridge at in Bond.

Among bluegrass royalty, Larry Keel and Jeff Austin are rising princes.Larry Keel Experience featuring Yonder Mountain String Band’s Austin hits State Bridge tonight at 7 in Bond.Larry Keel will display his guitar experience – which has been rewarded with two Telluride Bluegrass Festival Flatpicking Championships – while Jenny Keel plays the acoustic bass and Austin throws down on Mandolin.

Larry Keel keeps it real regarding his bluegrass heritage, while also excelling at composing, picking and singing. His compositions have been described as diverse landscapes depicting resilient mountain folk, Elizabethan pirates, a gunslinger in the old west or a day-dreaming child.Larry Keel has shared the stage with Austin and the rest of Yonder Mountain String Band before, and he has also performed with Sam Bush, David Grisman, Tony Rice, Norman Blake, Bela Fleck, G-Love & Special Sauce, Peter Rowan, Del McCoury, Tony Furtado, Vassar Clements and Bill Monroe among many other familiar musicians.”(Keel) has lit a fire in me. Playing with him has brought me to new levels,” said founding member of New Grass Revival Curtis Burch, who released “Larry Keel, Curtis Burch and The Experience” in 2002.

Austin heads Yonder Mountain String Band as the primary vocalist and a mandolin player who has been picking for less than four years – largely by ear.Austin’s story became bluegrass history when he met Dave Johnston at the University of Cincinnati Conservatory of Music. Austin was studying musical theater, voice and dance theater, when Johnston convinced him to play a show.”All my influences are pretty wide. Right now I’m listening to a lot of songwriters that I’m a big fan of. That’s kind of where my mode has been. I’ve been listening to a lot of a guy named Todd Snider. I love Todd’s writing. He’s a great musician; he totally inspires me,” said Austin in a recent interview with the Vail Daily. “I’ve been listening to a lot of Jay Farrar from Sun Volt and Tupelo. Same thing with Todd, he gets me all pumped up. Benny Galloway – I’ve been listening to a lot of him too. I’ve really been delving into the whole songwriter thing … John Hartford. Those four guys have been really staple when I sit down and listen to music.”

Larry Keel Experience featuring Jeff Austin start things up tonight at 7 at State Bridge. Tickets are $10. For more information, visit Harley can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 610, or at

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