ROBERT EARL KEEN officially retired from touring in late 2022, but he’s still busy creating music. The Texas singer-songwriter will release his new album Western Chill via his own Scriptorium Rex label on April 14, with a whole batch of extra goodies to accompany it.
Published by: Rolling Stone, Written by: Jon Freeman
Robert Earl Keen was coming home. The Houston-born songwriter was unwinding in the back of his tour bus as it barreled west through Louisiana in the predawn dark of an early-August morning. He and his band had been traveling at a relentless pace since March, crisscrossing the country to perform at arenas, theaters, festivals, and clubs from Santa Cruz, California, to Portland, Maine. Keen was exhausted but feeling good. They’d played well that night, and now they were entering the tour’s last leg—a final run through their home state. For months, they had been plagued by a string of lousy luck, but as Keen started to drift off to sleep, he thought maybe the curse had finally been lifted. That’s when the bus caught fire.
For Robert Earl Keen, the road now goes on until September, when the Texas cult legend will conclude four decades of touring with a final run of shows at Floore’s Country Store in Helotes, Texas. His last show will be Sept. 4 — fittingly, the day before Labor Day.
Before then, the wry troubadour will play a feverish final summer tour that’s already proving to be the most in-demand Robert Earl Keen ticket in decades. “I’m experiencing something I haven’t experienced in years,” he says, “which is what to do with all the friends and family I didn’t know I had.”
As Keen winds down his touring operation, he still plans to ramp up activity in just about every other facet of his creative life.
Rolling Stone By JONATHAN BERNSTEIN
Texas troubadour Robert Earl Keen, North Carolina electronica duo Sylvan Esso and Canadian singer-songwriter Allison Russell will tape episodes of "Austin City Limits" at ACL Live in April and May, the PBS television series announced Friday.
Keen, who announced in January that he'll retire from touring later this year, will tape the program on April 27, filling a date that had previously been booked for the Foo Fighters before drummer Taylor Hawkins' death on March 25. This will be Keen's tenth appearance on the show. He also played the show's 40th-anniversary special in 2014 and served as host of the 2019 "Austin City Limits" Hall of Fame show.
Willie Nelson turns 89 on April 29, but the celebration will last for days. In addition to previously announced concerts April 29-30 at the University of Texas' new Moody Center with George Strait, there's now a May 1 event at Willie's Luck TX ranch just west of Austin that will feature host Bruce Robison plus guests including Robert Earl Keen and Ray Wylie Hubbard paying tribute to the Texas legend.
Tickets go on sale at 10 a.m. Friday via luckpresents.com. Ticket prices have not yet been announced. Joining Robison, Keen and Hubbard on the bill is Vincent Neil Emerson, with more additions to the lineup expected. There's no official word on whether Nelson himself will appear or perform, but he currently has no other concert commitments on May 1.
Nelson previously announced three upcoming performances at Luck, on March 20, March 26 and April 2. Those are in addition to his March 17 Luck Reunion mini-festival, which also will include performances by dozens of artists in town next week for South by Southwest.
Nelson's new album, "A Beautiful Time," comes out April 29 on Sony Legacy. It features a mix of new original material plus covers including the Beatles' "With a Little Help From My Friends" and Leonard Cohen's "Tower of Song."
After 40 years of entertaining his legion of fans across the world, Robert Earl Keen announced in January that he will be retiring from touring this fall. Sharing the news in a heartfelt poem entitled “Time Flies,” the 66-year-old entertainer explained that he was neither sick nor experiencing any “existential crisis” when making the decision to step away from touring. Rather he simply wanted to quit the road while he still loved it.
You’ve heard people say “Time flies”. It’s a cliché. Funny thing about clichés and what makes them ubiquitous, is they ring true. Jackson Browne has a line in a song that encapsulates a lifetime in the blink of an eye. It’s difficult for me to absorb the concept but, I understand it as a feeling because I feel it more and more with each passing day. BUT, it is easier to say, “time flies”. We all know what that means.
After all, this is the man who wrote “Merry Christmas from the Family,” the trailer park classic that manages to incorporate drunk parents, celery, tampons, intolerant in-laws, homemade egg-nog, chain smoking, bean dip and fake snow. The 1994 song is so popular that Keen — always the entrepreneur in addition to being one of the most highly regarded Texas songwriters — has built a mini-industry around it, including an annual holiday tour.
Fans of this irreverent holiday tradition know that Keen selects a unique theme each year celebrating music around subjects which have ranged from the Apollo Moon landing to 70s Outlaw Country. This year the theme is The Road To Christmas.
Published By: RollingStone Witten By: Jon Freeman
How an off-road adventure inspired the classic Texas song
By ROBERT EARL KEEN
Published by GARDEN & GUN