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Arts & Culture

Two Decades On: Keen Back At The Scene

Darren Carroll
Robert Earl Keen

Texas Singer-Songwriter Robert Earl Keen is celebrating a big mile marker in his career. I was able recently to sit down with him in his Kerrville office to talk about it. That "it" is the recording of a live album in 1995. The album didn't just get popular, he thinks it inspired up-n-coming musicians like himself to keep on plugging away.

"This record had a big influence on a lot of people that play music in Texas in the last twenty years."

That record is No. 2 Live Dinner, which was recorded at at Floore’s Country Store in Helotes. The album propelled Keen on Americana radio and helped secure him as a Texas musical institution. The reason he wanted to record the album was to capture that moment in time.

“I really felt at the time that the band was really good and was really enjoying the whole traveling around and playing and I really just recorded it originally to have it, to have it for myself.”

I asked him what it was like, two decades ago, on the night he recorded the album. He chuckled to think back on it.

“It was a big, big night, and as you can hear from the record that we made, there was a lot of hollering and screaming, a lot of crowd noise.  And then it turned out to be the most popular record I ever put out.”

So two decades on, Keen and his band are celebrating back at Floore’s this Saturday night.

“Over the years we’ve gotten even better, and it’s pretty much the same group.”

I asked Keen about whether or not he would play one of his most popular songs--Merry Christmas From The Family.  The song is a twisted kind of Christmas Carol, with a Tex-centric bent to it. He decided to launch into a fairly long explanation, which also had a twist.

“There’s a law around the country where you can’t play a Christmas song—Merry Christmas From the Family—from Easter to Labor Day. This show is going to be after Labor Day so I would say the chances are good.”

He smiled.

For more on Robert Earl Keen, go here