Originally from the Keystone State of Pennsylvania, Keystone Crossing – Larry Carlin and Claudia Hampe – is a delightful duo whose paths had crossed numerous times over the years until they finally met in March of 1995. The two attended the same grade school in 1959 near Valley Forge, PA, but did not know one another until some 36 years and 3,000 miles later. They met at the original in Sweetwater in Mill Valley, CA, during a show by bluegrass great Peter Rowan.
Their angelic harmonies hearken back to the early days of country and bluegrass music, as they sing songs of the famous brother duos of that era – The Delmore, Louvin, and Everly Brothers – as well as songs from contemporary duos such as Gillian Welch & David Rawlings, Emmylou Harris & Rodney Crowell, and Laurie Lewis & Tom Rozum.
The two also are founding members of the Americana/bluegrass/country band Blithedale Canyon, and they sometimes still play with their five-piece bluegrass band called Keystone Station, which features Claudia on guitar, Larry on bass, and a fiddle, mandolin and banjo player. Keystone Station has played the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park three times.
For most shows, Keystone Crossing features just two guitars and two voices. Larry Carlin has been playing bass in country and bluegrass bands for the past 40 years, both in Pennsylvania and California. For 31 years he performed with Dr. Elmo, of “Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer” fame. He is the self-proclaimed "King of King of Prussia, PA," now living in self-imposed exile in the hollow of Sausalito. Claudia Hampe is originally from Radnor, PA, and she lives in the hamlet of Mill Valley. She sang harmony for many years in folk and country bands – she was in a group that beat out the late Jim Croce in a high school talent contest – until becoming a bluegrass fan when a friend gave her his bluegrass music collection many years back. Together, they create heavenly harmonies.
Keystone Crossing has shared the stage with such notables as bluegrass legend Ralph Stanley and The Clinch Mountain Boys, Peter Rowan, The Laurel Canyon Ramblers, and David Grisman, and they'd be a welcome addition to any music show or festival.
September 24, 1998
Marin Independent Journal Band Profile
Crossing's Brotherly Path
by Michael Miller
Larry Carlin and Claudia Hampe are doing the brotherly thing. Oh, they aren't brothers, obviously. But they aren't even brother and sister, either. As Keystone Crossing, the couple play guitars and sing songs from the days of famous brother duos.
"There's a particular sound when people talk about the brother duets. It's a specific sound. The best way to describe it is the Everly Brothers sound," says Carlin. "We've captured this sound that real brothers do. There's not too many people doing this kind of thing, that we know of. We've created this niche."
It's these brotherly songs which make up their first CD, "Crossing Paths." The CD release party at the Sweetwater on Tuesday will be a homecoming of sorts. That's where Carlin and Hampe met in 1995.
"We were both there to see Peter Rowan play, so we obviously had something in common," says Carlin. That's not all they had in common. Both were transplants from the Keystone State of Pennsylvania. In fact, they even went to the same grade school in 1959. So why did it take so many years and miles for the two to cross paths?
"One good reason," says Carlin. "We grew up in the same town and went to the same school, but her family moved to a different school district." Maybe if they had started the brotherly thing back then, her family might have reconsidered the move.
Band name: Keystone Crossing
Type of music: Country and bluegrass
CDs: "Crossing Paths"
Names and hometowns of musicians: Larry Carlin and Claudia Hampe are both originally from King of Prussia, PA, but they did not meet until 1995 in Mill Valley; Larry now lives in Sausalito, and Claudia lives in Mill Valley
What are your day jobs? Larry Carlin -- executive chauffeur for a private investment firm in San Francisco; Claudia Hampe -- real estate broker and owner of Redwood Empire Properties in Mill Valley
What and who are your musical influences? The Delmore, Louvin, and Everly Brothers, as well as contemporaries Laurie Lewis, Peter Rowan, and Gillian Welch
What do you do after the show? Visit with friends and fans that come to see us play
Hobbies/interests: Playing, listening to, and watching music