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Robert Earl Keen

Robert Earl Keen: What he really means...
Robert Earl Keen: What he really means...

For the past 25 years, Sharpstown's own Robert Earl Keen has been every bit as influential a songwriter and performer as his onetime College Station porchmate Lyle Lovett. Just ask George Strait, who recorded Keen/Dean Dillon co-write "West Texas Town" on his Grammy-nominated Troubador, or Garth Brooks, who references "That Buckin' Song" on his "That Girl Is a Cowboy." Keen is best known, of course, as the godfather of the "Texas Music" circuit, the young bucks who have adopted the hard-livin', hard-lovin' attitude of Keen's Lone Star romances, if seldom their poignant imagery and sardonic tenderness. In fact, about 20 Texas Music hands (Reckless Kelly, Cory Morrow, Jason Boland) line up to salute Keen on next month's Undone: A Musicfest Tribute to Robert Earl Keen (Thirty Tigers), but their listless, largely acoustic renditions only highlight what a unique talent Keen truly is. (So do the five Keen live tracks on Disc 2, with ex-Bad Liver Danny Barnes on banjo.) Live, his crack band brings symphonic intensity to Keen's dusty twang, and since he hasn't released any new material since 2005's What I Really Mean, expect Sunday's set to be heavy on old favorites — it may be a few days too late, but he can probably be persuaded to do "Merry Christmas from the Family."

 
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