Robert Earl Keen

Robert Earl Keen: Within walking distance.

It's just not Christmas until Houston has had a visit from its favorite singing Aggie, and this year Robert Earl Keen is a little early. Usually the needles are falling off the tree by the time the Sharpstown native comes back home to sing "Merry Christmas from the Family." It hasn't even been that long since Keen has been here — road-seasoned from some Dave Matthews Band dates this summer, he played a free concert after an Astros game in September. That may explain why he's graduated to the bigger Verizon after a couple of Christmas dates at House of Blues. Regardless, Keen remains one of Texas's finest and funniest songwriters and storytellers — if you can hear him above his notoriously talkative fans, that is. His live band is as adept at rock-steady reggae and Grateful Dead-like jamming as scorched-earth roadhouse country rock, and last year's The Rose Hotel sounds more and more like his best album yet with each passing listen.

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