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Larry Keel’s bluegrass quartet hopes to be natural fit in Columbus show

Courtesy of Vikas Nambiar

Guitar picking and fishing are two things that go hand-in-hand for Larry Keel and Natural Bridge.

“Not pickin’ beans or berries — we’re talking about pickin’ music,” said Larry Keel, the band’s frontman, in an email to The Lantern.

The alternative bluegrass band is scheduled to take the stage at 9 p.m. Friday at Woodlands Tavern.

The quartet is made of up mandolin player Mark Schimick, banjo picker Will Lee, and Keel’s wife and bassist, Jenny, all of whom participate in vocals.

Larry Keel said the band’s “hybrid style” makes its music different.

“We just give it our spirit, give it our all — and take our hybrid style, really pushing the boundaries of our technical abilities — to create an enjoyable soundscape,” Larry Keel said in the email.

Other bluegrass, country and jazz musicians including Bill Monroe, Darol Anger, Vassar Clements and Sam Bush influence the group’s style, Larry Keel’s in particular.

“I just try to be an ever-evolving musical force that stands in ongoing defiance to all genre expectations,” Larry Keel said in the email. “Sure it’s acoustic — but don’t bother trying to pigeonhole our music. My mission is to let my technical skill, honest emotion and fearlessness connect my playing and singing to the audiences we play for.”

Nature has been a large musical influence on Larry Keel, he said. Other than music, one of his main interests is fishing.

“I love to fish! I try to get on the lake or river or ocean to drop my line in the water any chance I can get,” Larry Keel said.

Trout & Tunes, a weekend camping retreat in West Virginia featuring a performance the band, as well as many outdoor activities, is one way the band is able to combine music and the its love for the outdoors.

“We find that there’s a common thread that brings together a wonderful network of like-minded folks all across the world, who seek out the deep qualities that characterize both fishing and playing or listening to music,” Larry Keel said in the email.

The retreat provides a pleasant escape, he said.

“It’s a mystical connection, one that brings a lot of joy and satisfaction to a world overwhelmed with so much artificiality and staleness,” he said in the email. “Seems like we’d all like to connect more to people, places, sights, sounds and sensations that make you feel fired up!”

Ian Cullison, a fourth-year in environmental policy and management, said in an email that Larry Keel and Natural Bridge has a “bluesy feel.”

Because the energy of bands similar to Larry Keel and Natural Bridge translates best in person, Cullison said he would be interested in seeing the band live.

“This band definitely has a lot of energy and good instrumental prowess,” Cullison said. “The lead singer has a very satisfactory grittiness to his voice that fits well with the type of music they play.”

Kristin Canady, a third-year in human development and family science, listened to some of Larry Keel and Natural Bridge’s tracks and said she doesn’t normally listen to music in similar styling.

“It’s not my type of music, but I definitely think it’s good,” Canady said.

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