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Appalachian Swing: Live in Stereo..Banjo – with Special Guest Keith Billik

 Appalachian Swing returns to Natalie’s with their Kentucky Colonels inspired brand of Bluegrass. This show will feature not one but two great banjo players as the band welcomes Keith Billik of the Picky Fingers Banjo Podcast on second banjo alongside Todd Sams (banjo), Adam Schlenker (Guitar), Hayes Griffin (mandolin), and George Welling (Bass) 

Appalachian Swing  was formed in 2021, the result of a show performed by Adam Schlenker, Hayes Griffith, Todd Sams and George Welling. Adam and Hayes were hosting a monthly series of Americana concerts, each with a different theme and cast of musicians, at a club in Columbus. One such show featured the music of the Kentucky Colonels, a short-lived but highly influential southern California bluegrass band led by brothers Roland and Clarence White. 

     That concert was so much fun and so musically rewarding that the guys decided to form a band and carry things forward. Taking its name from the Kentucky Colonels’ landmark second album, Appalachian Swing took a somewhat unusual approach to repertoire by deciding to focus almost exclusively on the music of the Colonels, as well as various auxiliary projects by the White brothers.

     Adam takes pains to point out that his is not a “tribute band” that tries to copy the Colonels’ recordings note for note, lick for lick, in an attempt to sound exactly like the earlier band. “We are heavily influenced by the Colonels,” he says. “Their sound is a huge part of our musical DNA, especially mine and Todd’s. But we’re not trying to just copy their music. There’s more to it than that.

     “They had a certain ethos, an overall kind of feel, that we find very inspiring. It’s about making decisions—harmonically and rhythmically and tastefully—that we think they might have made or that we heard them make. It’s about understanding the ingredients that went into the Kentucky Colonels initially, and then us working with those ingredients to get our own outcome. We’re inspired by the sound that they made and their whole approach to bluegrass.”

Keith Billik

Keith’s Musical Background: Keith has always loved music, and began playing saxophone in the school band as a child. After some piano lessons and finding a passion for the guitar while in high school, Keith finally got a banjo in his hands while in college, and hasn’t looked back since. Perhaps surprisingly to most podcast listeners, Keith used his multi-instrumental abilities during his 8-year stint with a regionally touring Pink Floyd tribute band (with laser light show and everything), performing on guitars, keyboards, saxophone, lap steel, and more. Keith’s banjo playing is best recognized from his time performing and recording with Lindsay Lou & the Flatbellys, Mark Lavengood’s Bluegrass Bonanza, and many other appearances on stages and recordings as a sideman. Keith also gained plenty of banjo-related knowledge and experience while working ten years as Showroom Manager and teaching banjo lessons at the world famous Elderly Instruments. Keith has taught as banjo faculty at the Midwest Banjo Camp and Great Lakes Music Camp. Keith currently performs with Wilson Thicket, based in Southeast Michigan. Go to www.wilsonthicket.com to check them out!

Podcasting/Sound: Keith has always been interested in the technology of sound, starting in his undergraduate audio production classes at Michigan State University, which included an internship with Grammy Award-winning Producer/Engineer Glenn Brown. He went on to always be the guy in his bands that was in charge of the P.A., eventually owning his own sound system for freelance work doing sound for bands, venues, and events. It was this familiarity with the gear and technology of music that gave him a lot of confidence that he would be able to create a professional-sounding podcast when he started The Picky Fingers Banjo Podcast in early 2018. Since then, he has done additional podcast editing work for Osiris Media, recorded and produced studio music for himself and others, and continues to do freelance live sound work, on occasion.

Instruments: Keith’s primary instrument is a 2004 Sullivan Bardstown Custom. It has a Tony Pass rim, and a radiused ebony fingerboard. Keith uses and prefers the Gary Price straightline tailpiece, Tim Purcell and Scorpion bridges, Hoffmeyer and Propik fingerpicks, Propik thumbpicks, Rickard tuning pegs, Kat Eyz capos, and is endorsed by GHS Strings and Sullivan Banjos. Keith’s live performance setup varies from gig to gig, but usually includes a Sennheiser e904 mic clipped onto the banjo, an EMG ACB Barrel pickup, and a Grace Design Felix Blender. And maybe some stompboxes here and there. Other banjos include a 5-string solid body electric banjocaster custom made by luthier Scott “Stretch” Reinsmith, an Ome resonator banjo tuned to open E (Hartford tuning), and a 1964 Epiphone long neck.

Food & Bar: Our full food and drink menu will be available before and during the show.

Date: Thursday, May 23

Time: 7:30 pm

Doors Open: 6:30 pm