Longtime bluegrass band leader and Grammy-nominated guitarist Larry Keith grew up in Henderson County. His first guitar teacher, when he was nine or ten years old, was his grandmother, a native of South Carolina. Keith’s father was also a musician, a gifted church singer. The music from his childhood-the hymns sung in his small, rural Baptist church, as well as regional songs like “Tom Dooley” and recordings and radio broadcasts by such stars as Arthur Smith-has stayed with him through the years, forming the foundation of his artistry as a professional bluegrass musician.
Keith’s first bands were formed with local musicians, friends and neighbors who also played bluegrass. He played more widely with Arlene Kesterson and her band Gold Rush, in which other great Western North Carolina bluegrass artists like Marc Pruett and Steve Sutton also honed their talents. “I cherish all those people I used to play with,” he says. “I learned something from all of them.”
Opportunities followed, to play with Janette Carter at the Carter Fold, to play with Dolly Parton, which he did for four years, and to go on the road with Bill Monroe and the Blue Grass Boys, which he turned down. (“What was I thinking?”)
In 1995, Keith and several friends formed the Lonesome Road Band, a bluegrass ensemble that he still leads. His current bandmates are multi-instrumentalist Paul Eaton, banjo player Charles Wood, and bassist Reese Combs. Also a solo artist, Larry Keith recorded an album in 2007, Travelin’ Angel, that was nominated for a Grammy Award in three categories.
Larry Keith is available to perform with the Lonesome Road Band at concerts, festivals, and other venues, as well as solo on occasion. He will consider requests for demonstrations, lessons, workshops, and school programs.