Charleston, South Carolina
At what age did you start playing guitar?
$25 steel string from the five & dime. To a 10-year old in those days, it was priceless. Strings were raised about 1/2 inch from the frets. Back and sides became unglued and the bridge pulled off the top. Humble and healthy start.
Jimmy Page & Leo Kottke. Like 95 percent of all pre-adolescent boys, I was into Rock music, and at that time, Jimmy Page was a deity. But upon hearing Leo Kottke's Armadillo 12 & 6 string guitar album for the first time, I was forever hooked on the acoustic path.
16 years old, playing in some sleazy bar. A brawl broke out in the middle of the performance. I knew at that point that I wanted to be a performer. I also realized that there was no greater challenge than to win over a hostile, trashy bar crowd, who hates your music from the start. Got swindled out of getting paid and propositioned by a dentally-challenged lady old enough to be my grandmother. A rewarding experience and grand introduction to the reality of the music business. It hasn't changed for the most part.
Acoustic Guitars you own:
Kinscherff High Noon, Taylor LKSM-12, Breedlove JM-22, National M1, National Polychrome Tricone, Dobro 60DS, Baby Taylor.
Kinscherff High Noon. Built by Jamie Kinscherff in Austin, Texas. It is my main guitar on stage and in the studio. I haven$B!G(Bt found any guitar that performs as well as the Kinscherff High Noon.
Your Style, and how you developed it:
Fingerstyle 12 & 6 string guitar adapted to Appalachian/Folk/Ragtime. I do a lot of slide playing, and since the tempos are usually allegro, there's a TON of finger picking. I utilize resophonic guitars to a great extent. I really respect the true innovators of the guitar: Blind Blake, Merle Travis, Doc Watson and Leo Kottke, and that's where it ends. I've struggled over the years to develop my own musical creed and personality. My playing tends to be fast and aggressive, and I don't apologize for it (to the chagrin of the singer-songwriter folk music community).
Usually 2-3 hours a day for practicing; 1 hour of warm-up before performances. Composing takes most of my time, especially when working with many different types of instruments (12 & 6 string guitar, mandolin, and dobro). A player once told me "One hour of practice is equivalent to one hour of practice; one hour of performance is the equivalent of 3 hours of practice; one hour of recording is equivalent to 3 hours of performance!" I tend to believe this theory. Most people who spend enough time in studios can testify that the studio can be a living hell because it is so intense. In fact, it is in the studio where I usually threaten to quit--the only other time was after I saw a Tommy Emmanuel performance.
Living: Sam Bush, Leo Kottke, Tommy Emmanuel, Tim O'Brien
Deceased: Blind Blake, Bill Monroe, Charley Patton
Is there anything else you want people to know about you, your playing style or your views on today's music in general?
My general mantra is that a player never really creates music that hasn$B!G(Bt already been created; it$B!G(Bs a player$B!G(Bs interpretation that is magical. Fingerstyle guitar is a challenge, but it will take you places you$B!G(Bve never even dreamed of. I think a player$B!G(Bs primary concern should be to just do it for yourself. And if you think you$B!G(Bre a really really good guitar player$B!D(Bgo to Winfield, Kansas and immerse yourself among hundreds of other pickers who are either just as good or better than you.
Check out Keith's website