The Suspect: Larry Keel and Natural Bridge
Keel grew up in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia, and there began his love and deep appreciation for mountain music culture. After a seven-month stint as a bluegrass musician at Tokyo Disneyland, Keel returned to the states and took up playing on the East Coast festival circuit. Countless awards and accolades have been showered on Keel and his bands over the years as he continues to wow audiences with his flat-picking guitar playing. Natural Bridge was formed in 2005 with Larry’s wife, Jenny Keel, mandolinist Mark Schimick and banjo player Andy Thorn.
Can Be Found: Pisgah Brewing, Thursday, Feb. 3.
RIYD(Recommended if You Dig): Del McCoury Band, Yonder Mountain String Band.
You Should Go If: Your wife keeps a blog about coupon clipping and the joys of home schooling your six children; people often underestimate your towering intellect due to your quiet nature, Santa-length beard and rainbow suspenders; your idea of a successful Super Bowl party is … everyone raving over your grandmother’s squirrel chili and not revealing the recipe until the end of the night.
The Suspect: Mystic Vibrations
Though frontman Ric Williams is originally from Jamaica, the group now resides in Gaston, S.C. They released their first recording People Get Ready in 1993 and they’ve been spreading their message of love and unity ever since. Mark Harris of Reggae Reviews calls the band’s 2004 re-release Busy Street “a modern classic, a gorgeous testament to the power of music.”
Can Be Found: Stella Blue, Friday, Feb. 4.
RIYD: Steel Pulse, John Brown’s Body.
You Should Go If: You feel naked without a sack on your head; you’ve had to claim your toddler at the “lost and found” of more festivals then you care to remember; you have a real gift for helping family and friends develop really clear boundaries; your idea of a successful Super Bowl party is … waking up just as the game is finishing and devouring all the leftover food.
The Suspect: Abigail Washburn
She’s a Nashville-bashed clawhammer banjo player whose musical journey has taken her to Tibet and China as a bluegrass ambassador of sorts. In addition to her solo career, she’s been a part of Uncle Earl and The Sparrow Quartet (with cellist Ben Sollee, fiddle player Casey Driessen and Washburn’s husband, Bela Fleck.) Currently, she has an impressive new cast of collaborators: musicians from My Morning Jacket, the Decemberists, Old Crow Medicine Show and Turtle Island Quartet join her on her latest project set for an early 2011 release.
Can Be Found: The Grey Eagle, Saturday, Feb. 5.
RIYD: The Wailin’ Jennys, The Ditty Bops.
You Should Go If: Not to sound immodest, but you’re kind of like the Steve Jobs of your office; In order for you to drive your seat has to be positioned at a ninety-degree angle; You didn’t realize Ricky Martin was gay until you heard it on NPR; Your idea of a successful Super Bowl party is…filled with debates about gross consumerism and whether or not football players are the gladiators of the 21st century.
The Suspect: Dr. Dog
Guitarist-vocalist Scott McMicken and bassist Toby Leaman met in their Philadelphia eighth-grade classroom. After years of “practicing in basements, performing in barns and tweaking knobs on cassette four-track machines,” they released their first record (Psychedelic Swamp). Their big break came in 2004 when My Morning Jacket’s Jim James heard the group and decided to take them on tour. According to Pitchfork, the band’s latest release, Shame, Shame, “embraces a bigger, more charismatic sound … the songs are best at their springiest, with ragtime-y pianos, blooming back-up harmonies and a healthy injection of ‘70s AM gold.”
Can Be Found: The Orange Peel, Tuesday, Feb. 8.
RIYD: The Band, The Beatles, Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes.
You Should Go If: You’ve never let go of your dream of wanting to be a hobo when you grew up; whenever you go sledding, someone in your party always ends up in the E.R.; you gave up smoking for the New Year and now you only have two friends left, neither of whom live in town; your idea of a successful Super Bowl party is … one in which both men and women whole-heartedly embrace traditional gender roles (i.e. your girlfriend brings you beers all night.)