Robert Earl Keen freshens ‘Fam-O-Lee’ on new holiday tour

It’s not easy to keep a holiday show fresh.

Some national touring acts, such as Trans-Siberian Orchestra, depend on creating a dazzling new laser show with catwalks where guitarists stroll out playing above the audience.

Others, such as Robert Earl Keen, depend on a wacky signature song — “Merry Christmas from the Fam-O-Lee” — a few new stage props and the creativity and talent of members of the Robert Earl Keen Band to continue to breathe new life into the festive celebration.
Such is the case of this year’s all-new “Merry Christmas From the Fam-O-Lee Country Gold Jamb-O-Ree” tour, which will bring some surprises to the Aztec Theatre Saturday.

The show is built around the humorous tune he wrote after trying to compose a serious Christmas song. He gave up on that and went back to his family’s Christmas celebrations, which included fistfights between his brothers and neighbors and a young woman getting drunk and accidentally setting the tree on fire.

It was too much to fit into a four-minute song, so Keen stuck to the highlights — and in some cases, lowlights.

The song about a dysfunctional family’s Christmas celebration gone awry (which everyone can relate to) was an instant classic the first time Keen sang it live in the early 1990s.

The ever-evolving set includes references in the song such as a giant pack of Salem Lights and a huge box of tampons alongside a huge Santa and lighted Christmas trees.