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Goin' country

The Keith Swinney Band
puts new spin on
traditional cowboy music

The southern Indiana group stays busy year-round

By Michella M. Marino
Contributing Writer

(November 2006) - The Keith Swinney Band is the perfect picture of a group of hard-working country boys trying to make a name for themselves in the wide world of music. Based out of southeastern Indiana, the band has been around since 2002 and is composed of Swinney, Joe Tellas of Greensburg, Jack Addison of London, England, Ron Pickett of Holton, Ind., and Josh Taylor of San Jacinto, Ind. Swinney is the lead vocalist but also plays the guitar, while both Tellas and Addison play guitar and also sing. Pickett is featured on the bass with Taylor on drums.

Keith Swinney Band

Photo provided

The Keith Swinney Band hails mostly
from Ripley County, Ind., and has
opened for many major acts. From left
in the back row, they are Ron Pickett,
Joe Tellas, Josh Taylor and Jack Addison.
Keith Swinney is in the center.

Swinney, 24, of Holton, is the band’s founder and has been involved in music since he was 12. Surprisingly, his great-grandmother, Maxine Wilson, taught him to play the guitar, and he then took guitar lessons in Greensburg provided by another set of grandparents. He became involved in his first band, Hoosier Daddy, at age 15, but broke off from that local band a couple years later to form a band of his own. Swinney was under the M&N Production Co. from Versailles, Ind., but broke ties with that label due to lack of work.
“Honestly, that was the wisest move I could’ve made,” he said.
The new band Swinney created was simply called “The Keith Swinney Band” and, unlike Swinney’s previous situation, has more than enough work to keep them booked. The band only takes three weekends off a year: Thanksgiving, Christmas, and usually one weekend in the summer.
The band has played essentially every weekend for the past four years, despite the fact the members all have other jobs. They play a wide variety of small to very substantial size venues. “We play everything from bars, clubs, and honkytonks to Verizon and Blue Ash,” Swinney said.
The type of music the Keith Swinney Band plays also varies. According to their website, “When one sees the Keith Swinney Band play live, they not only hear everything from traditional to modern country, but they also hear some classic and modern rock songs as well.”
Swinney said, “We play everything from Hank Williams to Kid Rock.”
He knows that when he wears his big cowboy hat, people are going to expect typical country music, but that’s not all they’re going to get. Swinney knows his music is tinted with a country sound, but his band covers several genres of music. Each musician has his own image, and not all of them wear the typical cowboy hat and boots. They all have their own individuality.
The band makes up its own set list and modifies as it goes, if necessary. “We play the crowd. We read the crowd,” Swinney said.
Swinney and his band have opened up for such big names as Kenny Chesney, Toby Keith, Neil McCoy and Tracy Byrd. On Oct. 8, they provided the entertainment for the Old National Fun Zone at the Pan Am Plaza in downtown Indianapolis prior to the Colts’s NFL game.
However, their greatest honor came during what was supposed to be a Chris Cagle concert. In June 2005, the Keith Swinney Band was scheduled to open up for Cagle at a free concert that was part of the summer concert series at Blue Ash in Cincinnati. Thousands of fans were in the audience expecting to hear Cagle perform as the headliner, but at the last second, Cagle had to cancel. The Blue Ash concert promoter thought he could get another famous country singer to fill in on short notice, but that backup plan also fell through. So the Keith Swinney Band became the headline band for the night.
The fans in the crowd were all fired up, and both the band and the promoter expected most of the crowd to head out when they were told that Cagle would not be performing. Amazingly, they did not and, according to Swinney, the crowd went wild at their performance and stayed until the very end.
“We played like we were stars and the promoter was flabbergasted,” Swinney said. “We were driven by the crowd.”
The band played for four hours with a break in the middle yet the crowd never left until the Keith Swinney Band’s performance ended. “It was the best night and experience we’ve had,” Swinney said.
A CD is in the works for the band, but it has been so busy playing the last couple of years that it has taken longer to complete than expected. Swinney said he hopes to have the project finished up within the year and to take a little time out next year to work on their original music. The band also hopes to eventually sign on with a big label, but its main goal is to be able to do what the band members love best for a living.
Drummer Josh Taylor said, “Everyone’s goal is to make a living by what we’re doing. It’d be great if music was all we could do.”
The Keith Swinney Band plays all over the area and will be at Lefty’s Pub in Batesville, Ind., on Nov. 10, and at Poppy’s Sports Bar & Grill in Lawrenceburg, Ind., on Nov. 11. The band is scheduled back in Madison, Ind., at River House II on Dec. 15-16 and will play at the Pit Stop Bar & Grill in Sparta, Ky., on New Year’s Eve.

• For more information on the Keith Swinney Band and its schedule, visit www.KeithSwinneyBand.com.

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