Robert Earl Keen brings 'Texas Christmas spirit' to Corpus Christi

One of Texas country artist Robert Earl Keen's favorite Christmas memories may hold a piece of inspiration for his iconic Christmas song, "Merry Christmas from the Family."

Keen will perform at 9 p.m. Thursday at Brewster Street Ice House.

"One memory that is in line with that song was about my niece and my two nephews," Keen said and laughed. "They were running around the house and my dad got real frustrated with them. The oldest one was 7 and the other one was, I guess he was 4, and then the other one, the little one, the girl was like 2. So, we have 7, 4 and 2."

"He put the 7 year-old on the riding lawn mower that had a wagon like a Western Flyer wagon in the back as a trailer, and they put the little girl in the wagon and the two boys were sitting there fighting for authority over the steering wheel. They were riding around on the lawn in our backyard with the blade engaged, and the oldest one had a pellet gun in his hand. This is like a complete open invitation for total disaster and of course, I guess my dad just had that calm or something. He was always doing (stuff) like that and nothing happened. You know they mowed like half of the backyard and that was it."

Keen's iconic Christmas song, "Merry Christmas from the Family," was recorded for his 1994 album, "Gringo Honeymoon" and was also rerecorded for his live album "No. 2 LIVE Dinner," which was released in 1996.

"I was writing some songs for a record and it was November and I was thinking that I had plenty of time to get these songs staked up and play them for people and then I realized oddly enough the entire music business, the industry and the booking agents and the publishers and the record companies basically shut the door December first," Keen said. "I thought I'm not going to even worry about it, I'm just going to sit here and write something and the first thing that I thought of is that I don't have a Christmas song that represents me. I don't know what a chestnut looks like sitting over an open fire and I never really saw a sleigh or a sleigh bell."

"I saw these other things so I wrote my own version of what I think Christmas is all about being from Houston originally," Keen added. "When I played it and every time I played it, everybody went nuts and it was an instant hit for me. I ended up putting it on that record that I was writing and it's always been a huge part of my life and my musical career."

While most folks are making holiday plans and gearing up for a little downtime, the singer/songwriter is readying himself for another round of concerts aimed at spreading some Texas-sized Christmas cheer.

"We are the Jimmy Buffett of December so we like to be out there playing to the people because our Christmas song is a big part, I think, of being from Texas and being in the spirit and, you know, whether it's in your living room or your deer camp, I think we are part of that Texas Christmas spirit," Keen said. "It's the one time of year that I couldn't turn down."
If You Go:

What: Robert Earl Keen, Lloyd Maines and Terri Hendrix

When: 9 p.m. Thursday (Doors open at 8 p.m.)

Where: Brewster Street Ice House, 1724 N. Tancahua St.

Cost: $20/advance; $23/day of show

Information: www.brewsterstreet.net or 884-2739