Key Frances, a former Motown session player, began his professional music career on his own in London, England.
Within a few short months of arriving, with a UK band, Key was headlining his own music at the
London City Limits Blues Festival and at The Astoria where he played on Saturday nights. His profile became so well known that Key had to run out of the country before immigration removed him from the UK for visa violations.
Key moved to New Orleans, Louisiana for a couple of years. He lived and played his music with Louisiana musicians.
The band played just about every venue in New Orleans including The New Orleans Jazz Festival.
He sat in on sessions with producer
Daniel Lanois (Bob Dylan: Time Out of Mind, U2: Joshua Tree) and hung out with The Neville Brothers.
(Key credits Daniel for his approach to the release The Pyramid Session Live.)
His music then bought him to Austin, Texas. Once again Key lived and played with local Texas musicians. For a period of two years they played every Austin venue and many outlining venues in Houston, Dallas, and Forth Worth. In Austin Key had record attendance for his regular Friday night gigs at the Black Cat Lounge. He also played the Austin River Festival. It was in Austin that Key's music caught the attention of the producer Bob Johnston (Bob Dylan: Bring It All Back Home through Nashville Skyline) who teamed him up with Chris Layton and Tommy Shannon of the famed Stevie Ray Vaughan's band "Double Trouble" for an album of Key's original music.
Born & raised in Seattle, Key grew up exploring the great world of the Pacific Northwest during a time when the old Indian totems
still stood tall and proud, when the powerful Indian spirit still breathed freely in nature. One can hear this presence in Key's guitar tone,
resonating beyond the mundane.
Key's work ethic developed during the summers he spent on a large wheat and cattle ranch. As a child he had to feed the pigs, which were bigger than he was. Later he drove heavy farm equipment and fought brush fires.
Key's rite of initiation into manhood came via the Marine Core. Based at El Toro, Key became exposed to the vibrant music scene in and around Los Angeles.
This was the era when R & B dominated the radio and jazz was at its peak. Sam Cook, the sounds of Motown, and Ray Charles filled the air. He heard Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Dave Brubeck, Sonny Rolands, and Charles Mingus, all live in their prime.
This era segued wayed in to psychedelic blues ripping on the electric guitar.
These great guitar players exploded onto the scene and Key found himself once again immersed in the sound. Now he heard Albert Collins, Albert King, BB King, and Buddy Guy.
The inspiration to pick up the guitar came after hearing Buddy Guy in concert. That experience began the long and tenacious process of mastering his craft. His first experiences as a singer/songwriter and guitar player were playing between the Robert Cray's sets.
While developing his music, Key worked as a cross country truck driver, a railroad brakeman, a commercial pilot, and entrepreneur ventures such as running a bus up and down the West Coast. The now infamous Green Tortoise eventually bought the business. He also raced cars.
Key has shared the stage with
Key is an acclaimed highlight at various festivals, including
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