The Larry Keel Experience debuted their newest album, Experienced, on Friday, welcoming an incredible roster of special guests in addition to the tight knit trio of Larry Keel, his wife Jenny Keel, and Will Lee.
“I was just very lucky that everyone was available and we could get this worked out,” Larry Keel said about having so many great friends on the record. “When I got to hear everyone play their parts on our music it was very eye-opening and just truly wonderful. I’m honored all these folks can be on this.”
The album gets off to a blistering start with the help of Sam Bush on the instrumental “Ripchord”, leaving the energy high as Keel puts the pedal to the metal with the bluesy “Lil Miss”, exposing the self-absorption he sees in a younger generation of women.
“Memories” is a nostalgic look at the past, for better or worse, and delivers a lesson of awareness to the special moments in front of us right now.
Opening with the iconic voice of Del McCoury singing “Hot dang boys does that taste good, let’s fill ’em up again,” this next track by the title “Fill ’em Up Again” throws you right into a lightning fast bluegrass romper, enriched by Mike Guggino (Steep Canyon Rangers) on mandolin and the highly touted fiddle playing of Jason Carter (Del Mccoury Band).
“Miles and Miles” is an especially meaningful track, featuring Keel’s great friend and collaborator Keller Williams on a chronicle of the traveling musician, a journey that they both know very well.
“It only seems appropriate that we have Keller record on it,” Keel said. “Because he and I sure have traveled miles and miles, and I couldn’t think of anyone else that I would rather play on that track.” Williams has formed a rich bond with the Keels over the years, with numerous albums recorded together and countless live performances under their belts. “He’s so spontaneous and improvisational that he’ll bust anything out in front of any crowd and try to take it to new heights, and he does that every time,” Keel said on playing with Williams. “I’m just so fortunate that we can get together and do that crazy thing we do every time we do it.”
Peter Rowan lends his signature howl to an immensely powerful tale of self-realization in “The Warrior”. The inspiration for this track came from “The Teachings of Don Juan” by Carlos Castaneda, a book about a Yaqui indian on a lifelong search for the actual reality in life, beyond what we normally experience. Keel likened this to his own journey as a musician, constantly on the search for that alternate reality in music and life.
The album comes to a graceful close with “Another Summer Day”, featuring Anders Beck and Jeff Covert. Beck’s elegant work with the dobro gives the song the refreshed feeling of a spring sunset in the Blue Ridge mountains.
“It takes a lot of nurturing, and it takes a lot of opening up and getting rid of yourself so that the music can shine,” Keel said about the songwriting process between Lee, Jenny, and himself.
“Experienced” is a carefully crafted message about thanking life for some of the messier moments, and keeping an open spirit to the simpler beauties that are all around us at every turn.
Written by Richard Oakley