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Biography

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Keith Knight is a solo 12 & 6 stringfingerstyle acoustic guitarist, vocalist, and mandolinist. Considering by many to be one of the most versatile guitarists in America, he has been performing across the United States since 1993.  Keith's high-energy guitar wizardry takes modern and traditional folk music to incredible heights.

His music is deeply rooted in Appalachian, ragtime, delta blues, and Americana music; and with his modern guitar techniques and spirited vocals, Keith breathes new life into these traditional music genres.

Bill Monroe and Leo Kottke--these two individuals Keith Knight blames for hooking him into acoustic music.  In 1993, Keith ditched rock music and has been specializing in traditional and modern American folk music (Appalachian, country and ragtime blues, and bluegrass mandolin) ever since.  Drawing on greats like Blind Blake, Charley Patton, and the mighty Leadbelly, Keith has carved his own stylistic niche for 12 & 6 string wood and metal bodied guitar.

What can happen when you expose a 4 year old to a phonograph and a 45 rpm of Elvis Presley singing Jailhouse Rock, or Three Dog Night’s rendition of Ely’s Comin’ coupled with the famous 45 of Let It Be and You Know My Name by The Beatles?  What can happen if you put a $25 guitar in the hands of a 10 year old who wants to be a guitar god?  The most likely outcome is a kid destined to become a penniless musician.

Keith's First Gig:

"I was 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 woman old enough to be my grandmother. A rewarding experience and grand introduction to the reality of the music business. The business hasn't really changed much." Keith Knight.

After graduating from UCLA, Keith, like many, didn't know what to do as far as career. He hung around McCabes Guitar Shop in Santa Monica, which at that time was the Mecca of acoustic music. It was there that he came across an ad by a band seeking a guitar player. The only details were that it was a "progressive groove band." After a few rehearsals, Keith joined the band which was called The Panic Choir. Only months later, after a string of musicians had passed through the band, Keith became a core member, and the band relocated to Austin, Texas. In Austin, Keith utilized his electric/acoustic guitar, mandolin, dobro playing and vocals for the band, and after only 6 months he was voted Top 10 Best Musician at the Austin Music Awards. Keith and The Panic Choir released their debut CD entitled "Soul and Luna" on the Crystal Clear label in late 1993. Critics called Keith’s electric & acoustic guitar playing “amazing”, “distinctive”, and “impressive”.

In 1993, Keith parted company with The Panic Choir, and relocated to the Carolinas where he formed Bear Claw Music and was soon thereafter included in the North Carolina Arts Council and South Carolina Arts Commission’s roster of touring artists. His jaw-dropping fingerstyle guitar earned him a fellowship from the SC Arts Commission for music performance (the first non-classical musician to attain this status). He was then made a residency instructor for the SC Arts Commission's Arts in Education program.

In 1998, Bear Claw Music released Hammer Thru the Silence, Keith’s debut solo CD which has been featured on over 75 folk music radio shows around the world. While being classified as traditional American folk music, Hammer Thru the Silence abounds in deep blues (ragtime/delta), monstrously heavy slide guitar and tenor vocals.

In 2003, Bear Claw Music released Keith’s next CD, Tear It Up, which demonstrates his versatility as a guitarist, vocalist and songwriter. From wood body guitars to metal body tricones; from Celtic to ragtime blues, Tear It Up takes you on a journey of melodic compositions which run through airy jigs to hell bent Appalachian frenzies. Tear It Up is modern folk music at its best.

In 2004, Keith met fellow guitarist and friend Don Alder at the International Fingerstyle Guitar Contest in Winfield, Kansas. Immediately, they knew they had very similar styles of aggressive playing, and after having gone through the now famous initiation of performing at Winfield, they kept in touch. In 2009, Keith and Don created EXTREME Guitar Duo. Together they are the embodiment of "extreme" as they perform energetic and explosive upbeat music featuring 12 & 6 string guitar, harp guitar, resonator guitar, mandolin, dobro, and vocals. EGD is an eclectic duo, undefinable in terms of genre. They play it all.

In 2013, Don and Keith discovered violinist Lily McCabe. Lily is the perfect accompaniment to Don & Keith's playing, and thus, Trio Montreal was born.

When not performing, recording, or being an agent, Keith is an avid connoisseur of fine wine who likes to travel the globe in search of hidden gems. He's also an Olympic weightlifter and mountaineer.