Home Sweet Home...
I was born in the extraordinarily windy city of Chicago. During my
2nd year, I moved with my forward thinking parents to the suburb of
Niles, Illinois where I lived for most of my life. Along with my father
Jerry, my mother Marilyn and my brother Irwin, we proceeded to grow
a million memories there. Mom is still in the same house I grew up
in. Unlike most folks that moved West, I still love the snow!
Flute and I
As a young child I began studying piano for which I continued lessons
throughout my high school years. In junior high school I was asked
to choose an instrument for which I wanted to play in the high school
band. Since there was no piano in the band I had to come up with another
option. I looked on the shelf where my Dad kept his instruments and
noticed that he had an extra flute. This was it, my new instrument!
I practiced diligently and played in the East Maine Jr. High School
band. Freshman Year at Maine East High School (yes, the same school
that Hillary Clinton and Harrison Ford attended) found me spending
all my time in the music department. I studied flute with a wonderful
teacher named Jimmy Wolf. He was one of those teachers that you could
always remember by the smell of his aftershave, his warm smile and
the great amount of encouragement that was forever imprinted upon
me. Jimmy eventually suggested I study with Kathleen Goll who, at
the time, played flute for the Chicago Lyric Symphony. I was a diligent
student and eventually won a number of scholarships and awards as
a flutist and even had the rare opportunity to be the guest soloist
with a local symphony.
My New Love - Bass
I attended the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana, IL for
two years as a flute performance major. I became very discouraged
by the music department and the flute professor I was studying with.
Although I learned a lot and had some wonderful teachers, I decided
to stretch my wings. During those years I discovered something that
I preferred to playing flute; I preferred playing electric bass. I
began playing with dear friends Kristin Lems and Cherry Wolfarth in
a band called Ms. Conception. Kristin had a friend at the time who
was a guitar player and owned a million basses as well. Each rehearsal
he’d bring me a bass until I found one that suited me. Yes,
the Gibson EB-3 ended up becoming my new voice. One of the first songs
I ever played on bass was “For What it’s Worth.”
Believe me, when I played it many years later on a gig with its composer
Stephen Stills, I couldn’t have been more touched!
I moved to Austin, Texas in November of 1976. Ok, maybe it appeared
it was only for love, but I had heard that Austin was a music town
and I thought it would be a great place for me to learn to become
a real bass player. I spent the next 11 years doing just that. The
first band I played with in Austin was called “Jubilee”.
We were a group of women playing music that made a political statement.
But even more than that, we were a family and made all our decisions
as a collective. To this day there are still fans that would love
In 1978 I began working with a country artist named Jess Demaine.
For the two years that I played with Jess, we toured every country
dancehall in the state of Texas. I learned to twostep, I learned the
Cotton Eyed Joe and got to work with some of the most wonderful musicians.
Jess to this day remains one of the most gifted vocalists I’ve
1980/81, I received a call asking me if I’d be interested in
going on the road with the circus. All jokes aside, it was an interesting
opportunity. Of course my parents weren’t too happy about it,
but as most young adults do, I decided to do what my parents said
not to! I was the only woman in an 8 piece band. I toured with Circus
Vargas for 8 months on the road before deciding to go back to school.
I had a tiny little trailer that I lived in – I fondly called
it “The Egg” because it looked like one. On a drive to
the next location, the trailer’s outer wall disconnected and
rested on the tire causing the entire trailer to catch fire. I jumped
inside, grabbed my belongings and said goodbye to the egg which we
left on the side of the road somewhere in Arizona.
My Days in Texas
1981-’84 - I attended the University of Texas at Austin. I was
blessed to study with some amazing teachers such as Rick Lawn who
was the head of the UT Jazz Orchestra and founding director of the
Jazz Studies School at UT. I was the bassist for the UT Jazz Orchestra
who performed with such greats as Mel Torme, Randy Brecker, Toshiko
Akiyoshi and Lew Tabackin. At that point in time electric bass was
not a recognized major instrument so I had to go back to my roots.
After taking 6 years off as a flute player it was a huge effort to
get back on track, but I did. I studied with a brilliant flautist
named Torkil Bye who was principal flute in the Oslo Symphony Orchestra.
If I had met Torkil Bye during my earlier college years as a flute
major I would never have chosen to become a bass player at all. He
was a most inspiring player and teacher. In 1984 I received my Bachelor
of Music in Theory/Composition from the University of Texas at Austin.
I also played 6 nights a week during all my school years there. I
played with the Donna Menthol Band for years. Donna is a kindred spirit
and a special, dear friend. She is a gifted vocalist and teacher.
I also played for years with the Kelly Gray Band, Eloise Burrell band,
The Little Big Band – just to name a few. During this time I
also met and became friends with one of my bass mentors, Roscoe Beck.
I would go listen to Roscoe all the time with his band Passenger.
My years in Texas were fruitful and have left me with a wealth of
moved to Los Angeles in 1986 after touring with Oleta Adams out of
Kansas City. Her work had ended and I decided it was time to try the
West Coast. I worked hard to begin a new life. I started playing on
Monday nights at Carlos and Charlies on Sunset Blvd. Jim Vukovich
was the music director for the cabaret nights there and I was hired
to play bass. Many of the people I met back in 1987 are the people
I still work with today. Jim called me to play bass for Freda Payne
in Japan in 1988. This was the beginning of a sequence of opportunities
that allowed me to
be in the right place at the right time. I was hired to play the reunion
tour of the Original Fifth Dimension. After that was a tour with Michelle
Shocked. I met Rita Coolidge in 1991 playing in the house band for
the Phillips Pro Celebrity Classic in Bentonville, Arkansas. She asked
for my number and I received a call a couple of months later by her
publicist to see if I could play a gig for her in Petaluma, California
that August. She and I have worked together ever since. In 1995 I
worked as music director for Nell Carter. I auditioned for Diana Ross
in 1990 and was hired in 1993.
From Present to Future
I’m currently heard on many demos, CD’s, and live gigs of
all types. The past couple of years have allowed me to venture into the
world of musical theatre which has been very interesting, challenging
and lots of fun. I played in a production of Smokey Joes Café in
2001-02, Grease in 2002 and Fame in 2003. I played the 1st National Tour
of Little Shop of Horrors 2004-2006 and the world premiere musical Sister
Act in both Los Angeles and Atlanta 2006-2007.
The future holds many opportunities which I look forward to experiencing.
Music is the ultimate healing power for me and for many others as
well. To be blessed to do what you love in life is a gift. I always
talk about being a daughter of good fortune – but it’s
really true, and I’m grateful.
- Lynn Keller