Keith Voegele (The Bottle Rockets)

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By Joe Gagliardo

Karma? Serendipity? Fate?  

All of the above with reference to the career of bassist Keith Voegele!

The journey started on a holiday visit to Keith’s cousin’s house when he was age thirteen – which consequently became a turning point in his life.

Keith’s cousin played bass … and he let Keith play the instrument. Back home, Keith returned from school one day and his Dad surprised him—he had purchased his cousin’s Rickenbacker 4001 copy Electra bass guitar and Marlboro amp! Though Keith took a few lessons, his best teacher was his record collection, immersing himself in the grooves and styles of several players.

By fourteen he was in a band – Equinox – whose members were high school seniors, and he toiled the next eight years honing his craft in bars, clubs and beer bashes.

In the late 80s Keith spent five years with Axe Minister, a metal band based out of St. Louis. While working at St. Louis Music making Ampeg and Crate equipment, he joined Lex Luthor, a band that mixed originals with covers.  However, a contact made from the metal days, lead to him moving to Boston to play with Epic recording artists, Meliah Rage, a thrash metal band.  The drummer of that band was Sully Erna, who went on to become the lead singer of Godsmack.

In the mid-90’s, Keith was back in St. Louis anchoring with The Phonocaptors, playing hard-edged original music in the vein of the Velvet Underground, MC5 and The Stooges.

That band had a tune on a compilation CD entitled St. Louis’ Tribute to Chuck Berry. The Bottle Rockets also had a song on that CD. Some years later when the Bottle Rockets needed a bass player, the engineer of that release suggested Keith.

After moving to Springfield, Illinois, Keith joined the Bottle Rockets in 2005 – and has held down the bottom ever since. The band’s rootsy / Americana repertoire gives Keith the opportunity to render up-tempo rockers as well as country music.

As they often tour with and back up acclaimed singer, songwriter, recording artist Marshall Crenshaw – Keith enjoys the opportunity to replicate the melodic bass passages from Crenshaw’s hit records which were originally cut by such notable players including Tony Garnier, Chris Donato, Graham Maby, and Tony Levin.

Keith cites his influences as Paul McCartney, Geddy Lee, Steve Harris.  Chris Squire, and Jack Cassidy. Given his metal background and the fact that his bass heroes are players who often ply complicated passages, Keith focuses on being a consummate “song player” – and limits his playing of lines that are overtly “busy.”

Weapons of choice: Keith  owns an array of basses, including a 2003 butterscotch blonde Fender Precision bass with a maple neck, strung with flatwounds; a 2013 Lakland Darryl Jones jazz bass, strung with roundwounds; a Rickenbacker 4003; a Fender Justin Meldal Johnsen Mustang bass; and a Creston Lee Tele-styled bass.

While he utilizes the traditional Ampeg SVT 8×10, GK 800 RB, and other cabinets, his go-to amp is an Ampeg B-100R combo amp that he fell in love with while playing a gig at the Sportsman’s Tap.

Catch The Bottle Rockets when they come through town on their own, or with Marshall Crenshaw, and check out Keith’s playing…

… The Bottle Rockets on Audiotree Live (Full Session)

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