Keith & Rooney

Bill Keith (b. William Bradford Keith, 20 December 1939, Boston, Massachusetts, USA; banjo/vocals) and Jim Rooney (guitar/vocals) forged one of the lynchpin acts active during the US folk revival of the…
Read Full Biography

Artist Biography

Bill Keith (b. William Bradford Keith, 20 December 1939, Boston, Massachusetts, USA; banjo/vocals) and Jim Rooney (guitar/vocals) forged one of the lynchpin acts active during the US folk revival of the early 60s. They were based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and, along with the Charles Valley River Boys, helped inspire the New England folk scene. Their early 60s debut Livin’ On The Mountain was produced by Paul A. Rothchild, at that point a director of the famed Club 47. Bob Weinstock, owner of Prestige Records, was so impressed with the results that he released the results and employed Rothchild. The album was an excellent old-time/bluegrass selection on which Keith and Rooney were aided by Joe Val (mandolin/vocals), Herb Hooven (fiddle), Herb Applin (guitar) and Fritz Richmond (washtub bass). Richmond later became a founder member of the Jim Kweskin Jug Band.

Keith and Rooney made a highly successful appearance at the 1962 Philadelphia Folk Festival during which Keith won the five-string banjo contest. They parted company in 1963 after which Keith joined Bill Monroe and Red Allen before moving to the west coast. There he became associated with a new generation of bluegrass band, including Muleskinner and Old And In The Way. Jim Rooney temporarily abandoned music to study classics in Greece, then worked with the country rock trio Borderline, before settling in Nashville where he worked as a highly-respected producer, notably with Nancy Griffith. He also continues to tour and play with Keith.