The Travelin' McCourys
I had a surreal day in Nashville with the McCoury family. I’m very lucky to be hooked up as a Travelin’ McCoury for a few select shows this fall. We are playing the Magnolia Fest in Florida as well as the VooDoo Fest in New Orleans. In case you don't know, the Travelin’ McCourys consists of Jason Carter on fiddle, Alan Bartram on bass, Rob McCoury on banjo, and Ronnie McCoury on mandolin. Rob and Ronnie are the sons of bluegrass legend Del McCoury and all 4 are Del's backing band. I’m also happy to announce that I’m a part of the Delloween weekend which will be in Covington, Kentucky at Madison Theater and the Jefferson Center in Roanoke, Virginia on 10/28 and 10/29. Both shows will start with me, loop-less. Meaning sans electronics. Meaning me with a guitar and a microphone. Old school. After me will be The Del McCoury Band followed by the Travelin’ McCourys. The reason for my day in Nashville was to play with, get to know the band, and record a few songs in the process. We recorded 3 tunes and I had an absolute blast. Walking into a situation like this has potential for weirdness. There was none. In fact, I left there charged, inspired, and excited for our next hang. We recorded “Hobo Song”>”e.m.d”>“Hobo Song”, “Mullet Cut,” and a new one of mine called “Broken Convertible”. I’m unsure when or if I will be able to share the tracks but as soon as I can, I will as I am proud of the recordings and my involvement with such a class act. Speaking of class act, after our 8 hours together the band went to join Del for one of their numerous appearances on the Grand Ole Opry. One of if not the longest running radio show out of Nashville. Steeped in history, the backstage walls are covered with photos of country music legends. This year, Del McCoury will be inducted into the bluegrass hall of fame. It was an honor to see Del and the boys in such a prestigious venue. Del and I talked about his 1956 martin guitar that I almost drooled on because of its coolness. Luckily I did not. Being there and talking with Del was the perfect way to cap off such a surreal Nashville day. But the day wasn't over. I went back to my hotel and met up with my old friend and recent Nashville resident/producer Gibb Droll. He had been working on a record with Shelly Colvin. He was very passionate about it and had just come from the mastering studio. We listened to the record in the car while parked in the parking lot. After hanging with Nashville royalty, a full day of recording bluegrass, being backstage of the Opry, then listening to a new record fresh from mastering, my day was complete. The next day, bright and early, I went to the airport to catch a new flight to DC. A very tired Abigail Washburn was on the inbound flight. She politely listened to my Nashville story as I was still buzzing with excitement. Until.....my flight was cancelled. 7 hours later I took off for DC where I was picked up by my family in a rented RV. We started our journey to Canton, Massachusetts for the Life is Good Festival. Life is Good is a company started by 2 New England brothers who sold t-shirts door to door at college campuses. Now, they have multiple stores nationwide. They have established a charity benefiting children and their families with life threatening issues. The festival was family friendly and all the profits went to their charity. They raised over a million dollars. The scene was positive with a lot of happy people. Especially John and Bert Jacobs, the founders of the company. I urge you to research the back-story and check out their good deeds. We saw Laurie Berkner, Ben Rudnick and Friends, Imagination Movers, Michael Franti, Martin Sexton, Ryan Montbleau Band, Maceo Parker, Brandi Carlile, Ray LaMontagne, and a beautiful set by Levon Helms. My wife and I use to live in several different motorhomes with our 2 dogs, Earl and Sheeba, as we crisscrossed the country living my musical pipe dream. It is a trip to relive those days, but with our kids instead of the dogs. As cool as our dogs were, our kids are much cooler........most of the time :)
Photo description: Keller with The Del McCoury Band, backstage at The Grand Ole Opry in front of a picture of "the big mon".