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08/12/2013

Aggies Lovett and Keen to headline First Yell Sept. 13

Texas A&M graduates and longtime friends Lyle Lovett and Robert Earl Keen will headline First Yell, which will be at Kyle Field for the second year in a row. But the annual event is being pushed to the night before A&M’s third football game of the year — the highly anticipated match-up against SEC foe Alabama.

The musicians will perform with veteran country stars Rodney Crowell and Emmylou Harris on Sept. 13 at 8 p.m. Tickets go on sale Tuesday at 8 a.m. through the 12th Man Foundation. Midnight Yell Practice will follow the concert.

Keen played last year’s First Yell the night before A&M’s SEC debut against Florida, along with fellow Aggies Rick Trevino and Granger Smith. Organizers estimated that 12,000 attended the performance.

From 1999 to 2011, First Yell, which benefits the yell leaders’ travel and other expenses, featured comedians at Reed Arena the night before the first home football game. Richard Biondi, executive director of the Association of Former Yell Leaders and the First Yell organizer, said the association took charge of the event last year because it had become a burden on the yell leaders. That’s when the switch was made to a Kyle Field concert, and to the event happening before the first conference game. “That’s why it was before Florida last year and that’s why it’s before Alabama this year,” Biondi said.

The audience will sit in the same spot as last year — the north end zone — but the stage will shift. In 2012, the stage faced the end zone, but it was on the right side, on the curve of the track past the playing surface. That created an approximate 50-foot gap from the front of the crowd. This year it will move toward the middle of the end zone area, closer to the front of the audience, Biondi said, and the goalpost will be removed for the show.

“We are very optimistic that the stage we are using will cause no harm whatsoever to the football field,” Biondi said. Lovett and Keen attended A&M in the late 1970s, meeting at Keen’s legendary front porch behind Northgate, which inspired their Front Porch Song collaboration (a.k.a. This Old Porch). Keen, class of 1978, is regarded as the godfather of Texas country. Lovett, class of 1979, incorporates blues, folk and gospel elements, and has won four Grammy Awards. They performed together in February at Rudder Auditorium, in an intimate trading-songs format. They also performed together in 2000 at Reed Arena in a concert to benefit the victims of the 1999 Bonfire collapse. Both are members of the Texas Heritage Songwriters’ Hall of Fame.

Grammy winners Crowell and Harris released Old Yellow Moon, a duets album, in February. Their collaborations go back to the mid-1970s, when Crowell was a part of Harris’ band.

Biondi said the show will run three hours. Crowell and Harris will perform together, and Lovett and Keen will play individual sets, though “that’s subject to them wanting to change it,” Biondi said.

Tickets range from $10 to $100, and go on sale Tuesday at 8 a.m. through the 12th Man Foundation. Call 979-845-2311 or 888-992-4443, or go to http://12thmanfoundation.com/

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