Robert Earl Keen Plots Countdown to Christmas Tour

For the past seven years, Robert Earl Keen has been forging a new holiday tradition with a run of irreverently themed Christmas shows. On December 2nd, the Texas singer and songwriter will kick off his eighth year of concerts with a gig in Greenville, South Carolina.

As on tours of Christmases past, this trek — the Countdown to Christmas Tour — will feature its own unique theme: Lunar Tunes & Looney Times, a nod to the 50th anniversary of the landing on the moon. Keen, who sang about a voyage to the Earth’s satellite in the Stryker Brothers song “Charlie Duke Took Country Music to the Moon,” will play tunes about the final frontier, the planets, and the Space Race — along with the centerpiece of the holiday shows, Keen’s fan favorite “Merry Christmas From the Family.”

The troubadour told Rolling Stone in 2018 that he could never perform on a stage in December without singing that track, originally off 1994’s Gringo Honeymoon. Aware of his obligation, he and his band looked for a way to distinguish their Christmas tours. “Pretty much all the people were waiting for that one song,” Keen said. “After a while, we got to thinking: ‘We got to do something more than this. We got to have more fun ourselves.’”

In a release, Keen says the 2019 Christmas shows, which wrap up December 30th in Fort Worth, Texas, will include “fan favorites and unearthly covers from his band members.” The Austin band Shinyribs will open.

Keen is also premiering a new episode of his music podcast Americana Podcast: The 51st State this week. Shinyrib’s Kevin Russell is the guest.

Here are Keen’s upcoming Christmas tour dates:

December 2 – Greenville, SC @ Peace Center
December 3 – Charleston, SC @ Charleston Music Hall
December 4 – Durham, NC @ Carolina Theatre
December  5 – New York, NY @ Town Hall
December  6 – Washington, DC @ Lincoln Theatre
December  7 – Bristol, TN @ Paramount Center for the Arts
December  8 – Charlottesville, VA @ Jefferson Theater
December 10 – Charlotte, NC @ Knight Theater
December 11 – Atlanta, GA @ Variety Playhouse
December 15 – Chattanooga, TN @ Walker Theatre
December 17 – Fayetteville, AR @ Walton Arts Center
December 18 – Houston, TX @ House of Blues
December 19 – San Antonio, TX @ The Aztec Theater
December 20 – Austin, TX @ Moody Theater
December 21 – Austin, TX @ Moody Theater
December 26 – Oklahoma City, OK @ The Jones Assembly
December 27 – Dallas, TX @ House of Blues Dallas
December 28 – Memphis, TN @ Germantown Performing Arts Center
December 29 – Nashville, TN @ Ryman Auditorium
December 30 – Fort Worth, TX @ Bass Performance Hall