Both Larry’s father and brother (themselves skilled and versatile acoustic musicians) influenced the younger Keel to thoroughly master the foundations of acoustic guitar (tune, timing, tone) before venturing into his own original territory. From a very young age, Larry made it his goal to honor and preserve the discipline of the Traditional Bluegrass music he knows and loves, while expressing his own ideas through acoustic music. At 18 years old Keel became a contracted musician to play Bluegrass at the Tokyo Disneyland theme park in Japan for 7 months (6 shows a day, 6 days a week). Back in the States Larry joined up with like-minded Bluegrass pickers young and old to travel the festival and fiddler’s convention circuit of the entire east coast.
Keel’s long time friend and banjo player Mark Vann (Leftover Salmon) encouraged him to travel to Colorado to attend the Telluride Bluegrass Festival and compete in its prestigious guitar competition. That year he won first place, and by 1995 he and long-time Bluegrass peer Will Lee (son of Ricky Lee from Ralph Stanley’s band) led their string band Magraw Gap to victory in the Telluride Bluegrass Festival band competition. Moreover, Larry again competed in and won first place in the guitar competition at Telluride that year. In fact, the band and all its incredibly talented members won awards in the competitions in 1995.
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