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Robert Earl Keen at the Levitt Pavilion
June 23, 2017
Three decades after the release of his debut album, No Kinda Dancer, with 18 recordings to his name and thousands of shows in his rear-view mirror, Keen has blazed a peer-, critic- and fan-lauded trail that’s earned him living legend status in Americana music and at home in Texas. He is a member of the Texas Heritage Songwriters Hall of Fame along with the late Townes Van Zandt, who Keen has toured with, and his longtime friend and fellow Aggie, Lyle Lovett. A short stint in Nashville earned Keen a publishing deal, a label and a national booking agent, but it was 1989’s West Textures album, and the debut of “The Road Goes On Forever” in particular, that kicked his career into high gear. His literate songwriting and razor wit created a grassroots following for instant classics like “Corpus Christi Bay,” “Whenever Kindness Fails,” “Gringo Honeymoon,” “Dreadful Selfish Crime” and “Merry Christmas From the Family.” In 2015, Keen ventured into bluegrass territory with Happy Prisoner: The Bluegrass Sessions, and emerged as Billboard magazine’s number two Bluegrass Artist of the Year. The recording was in 2015’s top five at Americana Radio and second on Billboard’s Bluegrass Albums chart. Keen has worked with Dave Matthews, Bonnie Raitt, Sheryl Crow, Eric Church and Gary Clark Jr. and has appeared on Austin City Limits. In 2015, he received the first official BMI Troubadour Award. Last fall, Texas Monthly magazine described Keen by saying, “From tales of romance on the Rio Grande in ‘Gringo Honeymoon,’ to the humor and dysfunction of the holiday season in ‘Merry Christmas From the Family,’ Keen writes of Texas and Texans with wit, tenderness, and an acuity typically reserved for Pulitzer Prize-winning novelists such as Larry McMurtry.” Keen’s newest double CD, Live Dinner Reunion, revisits Keen’s best-selling 1996 recording, Live No. 2 Dinner. The refreshed version features special guests Cory Morrow, Cody Canada, Bruce Robison, Joe Ely, Cody Braun, and Lovett, who co-wrote “The Front Porch Song” with Keen for Live No. 2 Dinner.