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Artist of the Month for November 2003: Keith Knight

Keith Knight

Age: 38

Charleston, South Carolina

At what age did you start playing guitar?

First 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.

Early Influences:
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.

First gig:
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.

Favorite Guitar:
Kinscherff High Noon. Built by Jamie Kinscherff in Austin, Texas. It is my main guitar on stage and in the studio. I haven’t 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).

Practice Regimen:
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.

Favorite Artist(s):
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’t already been created; it’s a player’s interpretation that is magical. Fingerstyle guitar is a challenge, but it will take you places you’ve never even dreamed of. I think a player’s primary concern should be to just do it for yourself. And if you think you’re a really really good guitar player…go 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
If you are a guitarist with a cd out and would like to be featured here please contact me.

AOTM Archives:

August 2008 - Danny Combs
March 2006 - Bryan Clark
Februry 2006 - Darin Leong
January 2006 - Andy McKee
December 2005 - Don Alder
November 2005 - Doug Young
October 2005 - Nancy Conescu
August - September 2005 - Warren Greig
July 2005 - Ian Melrose
June 2005 - Roger Lasley
May 2005 - Jim Tozier
April 2005 - Jessica Papkoff
March 2005 - Todd Habekost
February 2005 - Michael Hewett
January 2005 - Steve Barney
December 2004 - Tony McManus
November 2004 - Chris Newman
October 2004 - Kevin Kastning
September 2004 - Rick Duke
August 2004 - El McMeen
June-July 2004 - Charles David Alexander
May 2004 - Tony Capri
April 2004 - Shane Simpson
March 2004 - Bill Cooley
February 2004 - Greg Meckes
January 2004 - Gary Leek
December 2003 - Ernie Hawkins
November 2003 - Keith Knight
October 2003 - Jaquie Gipson
September 2003 - Chuck Durfor
August 2003 - Cathy Horner
July 2003 - Art Edelstein
June 2003 - Muriel Anderson
May 2003 - Clarelynn Rose
March-April 2003 - Steve Wildey
February 2003 - Rick Ruskin
January 2003 - Kerry Kling
December 2002 - Tim O'Brien
November 2002 - Howard Emerson
October 2002 - Dennis Roger Reed
September 2002 - Larry Pattis
August 2002 - Paul Asbell