By Ed Condran, correspondent
Much like his fan base, Larry Keel is waiting for his latest album. The adventurous vocalist-guitarist is sitting around waiting for his latest project, “One,” to arrive.
“It’s going to get here today at some point,” Keel said by phone from his Lexington, Va., home. “I want to bring some copies with me to Cedar Rapids. I’m going to play a lot of songs from ‘One’ when I get to Iowa, so the fans may as well have a chance to bring the album home.”
“One” is a departure for the Larry Keel Experience, which will appear Thursday at CSPS Hall. The bluegrass guitar virtuoso has made an album composed of rocking alt-country with his bandmates, which includes wife Jenny Keel on bass and mandolin player Jared Pool. The prolific songsmith penned a collection of originals and recorded each track live.
“I’m back with something completely different than anything else that I’ve done in my career,” Keel said. “I hear different sounds and different beats in my head, and I was compelled to take those sounds and make songs out of them.”
Keel, 50, isn’t like many of his contemporaries, who are simply content to ride the wave of familiarity.
“I like to challenge myself,” he said. “I don’t want to repeat what I do. I have so many ideas now.”
Keel recently returned from a lengthy vacation off the coast of North Carolina. He draws much inspiration from fishing.
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“There’s a common denominator for me between fishing and music,” he said. “Fishing and music stimulate me.”
New music is flowing from Keel. Three quarters of the Keel Experience set tonight (6/13) at CSPS Hall will feature fresh material.
“I have a number of unrecorded songs I want to play,” he said, “and I’ll play a song I wrote for the next album I’m doing with Keller Williams.”
“Speed,” the third album by Keller and the Keels, will drop in the autumn.
“Keller likes projects with one name,” Keel said. “I’m fine with that. The name of the album fits.”
A tour with Williams, the one-man jam band, will follow and run into 2020. So when will Keel return with a bluegrass album?
“I would love to do a bluegrass project sooner than later,” Keel said, “but I don’t think I’ll have the next bluegrass album out until the end of 2020. I’ll have so much going on with ‘One’ and ‘Speed.’ We have to tour behind those albums and that’s fine. It’s nice to be busy. That’s a good thing for a musician.”
Keel enjoys making music with his good friend Williams, but he would like to create with some of his other pals, too.
“I would love to do an album with Tyler Childers,” Keel said. “I love playing with Tyler. I would really like to make an album with him. I admire his songwriting genius.
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“And then there is Chris Stapleton. It’s been a while since I hung out with him. Who wouldn’t want to make an album with him? Chris makes real country music. The next couple years are going to be really interesting, but I’m going to try and focus on the present, which is playing the songs from ‘One’ live and having some fun when I get to Cedar Rapids.”
Keel acknowledges that nothing would sound right without his wife.
“Jenny is wonderful, since she understands that we’re a team,” Keel said. “She and I decided a long time ago that our lives would be about music. We create, we work hard and we never fight. Well, yeah right,” he said laughing. “But we actually get along very well. She gets it. She understands that we go out and play as hard as we can, because we intend to shock and awe each time we take the stage.”
WHAT: The Larry Keel Experience
WHERE: CSPS Hall, 1103 Third St. SE, Cedar Rapids
WHEN: 7 p.m. Thursday (6/13)
TICKETS: $18 advance, $22 door; CSPS Box Office, (319) 364-1580 or Legionarts.org
ARTIST’S WEBSITE: Larrykeel.com