Thursday 17 Apr

Dustin Prinz - Eleven

Few musicians take the time to master their instrument in the way that Oklahoma City singer-songwriter Dustin Prinz has; he’s a guitar virtuoso in every sense of the word, and Eleven gives him the chance to show just how far he can push that skill.
04/15/2014 | Comments 0

Horse Thief – Fear in Bliss

Listening to Horse Thief’s previous release — the haphazardly melodramatic Grow Deep, Grow Wild — felt like a chore. Whatever potential the Oklahoma City folk-pop act demonstrated on the EP was obscured behind a formulaic, contrived and ultimately hollow cloud. But it at least offered a glimmer of promise for a band consisting of, frankly, five pretty talented dudes. Critics saw it; the band’s management saw it; its current label, Bella Union, saw it; and its increasingly fervid fan base saw it.
04/08/2014 | Comments 0

Colourmusic — May You Marry Rich

There’s always a sense of danger when debuting songs in a live setting and playing them well. Without having heard the studio versions, expectations are set according to the live incarnations. But capturing the breadth of free-flowing atmosphere and sheer volume on a disc, vinyl or digital file isn’t the easiest thing to do, especially for a band as vociferous as Colourmusic.
04/01/2014 | Comments 0

Em and the MotherSuperiors — Churches into Theaters

As titles go, Churches into Theaters is an apt descriptor for the debut album from Oklahoma City rockers Em and the MotherSuperiors. It’s a reverential record, one that shares the gospel of classic rock, blues and soul but embraces the need to refashion it for modern times, channeling The Dead Weather, Grace Potter and Cage the Elephant along the way.
03/25/2014 | Comments 0

Rachel Brashear — Revolution

Rachel Brashear’s second EP, Revolution, starts with a kick to the shins.
03/18/2014 | Comments 0
Home · Articles · Music · Music · Beneath the Keith

Beneath the Keith

Even if audiences didn’t love John Paul Keith’s music, he’d still love playing it. But they do.

Joshua Boydston April 4th, 2012

John Paul Keith with The Copperheads and Black Canyon
8:30 p.m. Friday
VZD’s Restaurant & Club
4200 N. Western

Memphis blues and soul man John Paul Keith is wiser than most about the music industry. Clocking years in playing affords him a certain perspective.

“We were coming back home from Baton Rouge on a Sunday afternoon. I was driving the van, and you think, ‘God, this is a long drive,’” he said. “It occurred to me, ‘I love this.’ You have to love it. Some people love playing, some people love recording, but you’ve got to love every minute. You have to.”

There for a while, however, he didn’t. Keith had spent a decade in Nashville; he signed a record deal at the age of 21. Efforts to push his rootsy sound to something more commercial burnt him out.

“Even if you tell yourself you aren’t going to be one of those guys, when everyone you know is a part of that culture, you start to, whether you mean to or not,” he said. “That’s what I did, and I was not very good at it.”

Disillusioned, he moved to Memphis with the intention of leaving it all behind. But the sound of the blues filling the streets rekindled the romance, and he soon found players and audiences who approved of his vintage sensibilities and God-given guitar talents.

“What became apparent was this was the most open-minded place I’d ever lived, as far as music goes. Everybody was cool with whatever you did, as long as you meant it,” Keith said. “Nobody cares if it’s hip or not. It does not matter. It couldn’t matter less. You’re free to do what you love.”

His music is an even blend of all things old and classic, where garage rock and rockabilly find as much footing as ’60s pop and blues. His latest album, The Man That Time Forgot, has been praised for how honest and true it sounds to the ’50s and ’60s.

“We live in an age of robotic rhythm,” Keith said. “We try real hard to make our songs swing, to make them boogie. You can’t do that with a machine.”

So far, it’s worked exceedingly well, and he’s happier than ever.

“We opened up for Chuck Berry in St. Louis recently. He’s 84 and still gigging,” he said. “He doesn’t need the money; he just loves doing it. I hope that’ll be me someday.”

  • Currently 3.5/5 Stars.
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