Artist Interviews Country&Blues Month

Luke McQueary

At what age did you start playing and what players influenced you growing up?

I started playing when I was 11. My dad was my first influence and he ended up bringing me down to Roberts to watch the Don Kelley band with J.D. Simo on guitar. That inspired me a lot.

How in the world does a 17 year old guitarist even get an audition in Nashville?

Well I just hung around down there and watched Don. That was my favorite band to watch and I told don I would like to sub if he ever needed someone to fill in. He ended up letting me set in one set on one night and letting me sub here and there. Not too long after that he offered me the gig full time. My parents would take me down all the time to watch them and sub so they were a very big part in me getting to go down there as much as I did.

The Don Kelley Band has never compromised their style, they’ve always remained loyal to true country music, was that important to you going in?

To be honest I grew up listening to all of the old stuff with my dad. He listened to a lot of Merle Haggard and George Jones and all of that type of music. I don’t guess I really ever thought about it that’s just the music I like and my favorite band. The Don kelley band was mostly all I listened to 3-4 years prior of getting the gig. The way don plays that music is my favorite way to. You keep all the signature parts and then you put your spin on it and you get to play a lot and create that way.

You are earning a lot of respect and kind words from a great deal of well known individuals in the industry from fellow session players to producers, is it tough to stay grounded?

Not at all. I’m just trying to get better at playing music. I enjoy it and enjoy having some of my hero’s compliment me. I’m very humbled to even get to be in Don’s band. It’s been a dream since I was 11 years old.

Let’s talk about your gear, what’s all in your live rig from start to finish?


“I have and old 65 Blackface Fender Deluxe Reverb my dad let’s me use on long time loan!”

I have and old 65 Blackface Fender Deluxe Reverb my dad let’s me use on long time loan! Haha. I have one pedal, the Xotic effects soul driven pedal overdrive that I use on a couple songs, and I have an Xotic USA XTC telecaster style guitar I use. I use Signum guitar cables, a Snark tuner, and Elixir 9-46 strings.

Your playing style exudes a level of maturity well beyond your years and one of my main reasons for saying that is your almost surgical use of your volume knob on the fly. Has this always been part of your playing style?

I pretty much just use the amp and guitar throughout the night. I don’t have a booster or anything like that so depend on the knob. I used to use booster pedals but on this rig I Don’t need one and I think it’s a lot easier to just learn to use the knob.

In the history of country music, session players have been as or more important than the faces and voices at the front of the stage. Who are some artists both past and present that you would like to share the stage with?

Man there are so many inspirations that I have. Most of the artists I listen to are guitar players. I really don’t know who it would be. One I would say would be Merle haggard. I’m sure there’s more I just wouldn’t know who to name.

On the spot, no time to think, what’s the best country guitar tone you have ever heard?

If I had to pick one it would probably be James Mitchell’s tone. He’s a session musician here in town and one of my favorite players

What sort of things does 2019 and beyond have in store for you?

I’m just gonna play with Don as long as I can. That’s all I know for sure. Haha I guess I’ll just have to wait and see.

In a very short time with nothing to go on but YouTube videos, Luke has become one of my personal favorite players. His feel and control of the instrument, his command of the stage and crowd all come together into one of the all out best young guitarists I have ever seen and he is just getting started!! He’s also been labeled on more than one occasion as one of the players to watch in Nashville and we completely agree!! 

Watch a clip with Luke playing