ROBERT EARL KEEN
ROBERT EARL KEEN
"The road goes on forever …"
It's not always easy to sum up a career — let alone a life's ambition — so succinctly, but those five words from Robert Earl Keen's calling-card anthem just about do it. You can complete the lyric with the next five words — the ones routinely shouted back at Keen by thousands of fans a night ("and the party never ends!") — just to punctuate the point with a flourish, but it's the part about the journey that gets right to the heart of what makes Keen tick. Some people take up a life of playing music with the goal of someday reaching a destination of fame and fortune; but from the get-go, Keen just wanted to write and sing his own songs, and to keep writing and singing them for as long as possible.
"I always thought that I wanted to play music, and I always knew that you had to get some recognition in order to continue to play music," Keen says. "But I never thought of it in terms of getting to be a big star. I thought of it in terms of having a really, really good career and writing some good songs, and getting onstage and having a really good time."
Now three-decades on from the release of his debut album — with well over a dozen other records to his name, thousands of shows under his belt and still no end in sight to the road ahead — Keen remains as committed to and inspired by his muse as ever. And as for accruing recognition, well, he's done alright on that front, too; from his humble beginnings on the Texas folk scene, he's blazed a peer, critic, and fan-lauded trail that's earned him living-legend (not to mention pioneer) status in the Americana music world. And though the Houston native has never worn his Texas heart on his sleeve, he's long been regarded as one of the Lone Star State's finest (not to mention top-drawing) true singer-songwriters. He was still a relative unknown in 1989 when his second studio album, West Textures, was released — especially on the triple bill he shared at the time touring with legends Townes Van Zandt and Guy Clark — but once fellow Texas icon Joe Ely recorded both "The Road Goes on Forever" and "Whenever Kindness Fails" on his 1993 album, Love and Danger, the secret was out on Keen's credentials as a songwriter's songwriter. By the end of the decade, Keen was a veritable household name in Texas, headlining a millennial New Year's Eve celebration in Austin that drew an estimated 200,000 people. A dozen years later, he was inducted into the Texas Heritage Songwriters Hall of Fame along with the late, great Van Zandt and his old college buddy, Lyle Lovett.
I was born in Washington D.C. but grew up in La Porte, Texas. I started playing the trombone in the school band in sixth grade. I began playing the bass guitar a couple of years later and by the end of high school I was playing in bands around the gulf coast.
I moved to San Marcos after school and kept on playing at clubs and dancehalls all over Texas. I started writing songs and performing them with bands and solo. In ’95 I had the opportunity to audition for a job with Robert Earl Keen. I got the gig. Playing with Robert has been a great opportunity. My fellow band mates are great musicians and it’s a challenge to perform at such a high level. I’ve gotten to write some songs with Robert and have recorded a few. Playing on the road is tough, but the shows make it all worth while. I still live in San Marcos with my wife, Kim. My son, David Beck, is a great musician. His band, Sons of Fathers, is doing well. My daughter Katy is studying voice at Texas State, where I went. I look forward to many more years of recording, traveling, and performing with Robert.
TOM VAN SCHAIK
TOM VAN SCHAIK
Tom makes a living doing what most parents tell their kids to stop doing... hitting things.
Born in Claremont, New Hampshire, Tom's family lived in Vermont and Connecticut before moving to Dallas when he was 10 years old.
There he began a formal study of drums and percussion which continues to this day. He attended St. Marks School in Dallas, where his father was Head of the Science Department. After graduation, he attended University of North Texas to study music, earning a Bachelors Degree in Jazz Studies and minoring in Music Theory. Freelancing around Dallas/Ft Worth since he was 17, he eventually joined a little band from Texas - the Dixie Chicks. His tenure with the girls stretched from 1991-96 including "3 records, many TV shows and countless shows in the US, Japan and Europe". After leaving the Dixie Chicks, he joined the Robert Earl Keen Band in May 1997. "I am so fortunate to be able to tour around the country all these years with my best friends (all incredible musicians) and play such great songs every night. What other job could you have where a crowd of people is cheering and going nuts just because you are going to work?". He is endorsed by Promark Drumsticks, Aquarian Drumheads, Mapex Drums and Sabian Cymbals. Tom lives in Austin, TX with his wife and their dogs.
For a more in depth bio and information - please go to tomvanschaik.com
Tom is a pesca-tarian. No...not a Star Trek character ... think vegetarian + fish. His wife goes fishing in Alaska every year with her father, bringing home hundreds of pounds of fish.
Tom enjoys woodworking and has made the entertainment center, fireplace mantle, closet organizer, etc. for his home renovation... not to mention the official smushball court for the REK tour bus.
Tom has played for every President since Gerald Ford (with the exception of Jimmy Carter.... not all were in office at the time).
As a child, Tom tapped maple trees to make syrup in Vermont with his grandfather.
Tom is related (distantly, if you've ever seen him dance) to Gene Kelly.
While teaching at the Arts Magnet High School in Dallas, one of his students was Norah Jones.
First band = Storm Warning ... a horn band in high school. We played mostly Chicago and some Blood, Sweat & Tears.
Marty started in the business of making music in the mid-seventies in Chicago. After following his muse to California and back to the midwest, made his way to Austin, TX in 1985.
Since that time he has enjoyed being a part of the fantastic music community in Austin, recording and performing with a wide variety of artists including: The Derailers, Bruce Robison, Kelly Willis, Dwight Yoakum, Rick Trevino...... He has been touring and recording with REK since the dawn of the new millennium.
Born in Adelaide, South Australia, Four-Time Australian Mandolin Champion and multi-instrumentalist/vocalist Kym Warner moved to the U.S in 2001. A founding member of the progressive acoustic band The Greencards, Kym toured the US, Europe and Australia extensively for thirteen years, recorded six studio albums and received accolades such as Three GRAMMY nominations, a #1 Billboard Bluegrass Album, an Americana Award for 'Best New Artist' and a national tour with Bob Dylan and Willie Nelson.
In 2015 Kym was asked to play mandolin on Robert Earl Keen’s ‘Happy Prisoner" album and the following ‘Live Dinner Reunion’ album and has been a part of Robert’s touring band since 2015.
Kym released his debut solo album ‘Everything That Brought Me Here’ in 2015 and has been performing as a solo artist playing a variety of instruments (mandolin, bouzouki, ukulele, electric mandolin) playing both original and cover songs and telling the stories of the songs and his travels that have lead him to become an American Citizen and Texas resident.
Born in the Houston area, Brian began playing violin at age 8 then soon after switched to fiddle. He later began playing guitar, bass, mandolin, and other instruments in local Houston/College Station bands.
After high school, Brian moved to Austin to attend the University of Texas but was quickly sidetracked and joined the South Austin Jug Band and toured the U.S. and Europe for 5 years. After SAJB, Brian toured with the likes of Bruce Robison and a host of other Austin bands before striking out with a new project, Milkdrive. Releasing 3 studio albums and a live record, Milkdrive also toured Europe and the U.S. extensively and still play occasionally when the stars align!
In 2015, Brian started playing fiddle with REK and has loved it ever since. Being a lifelong fan himself, it is a real treat to get to play songs he grew up singing along with.
“The Sound Guy” for REK since August 1999; Sound business in Austin, Texas since 1975; mostly worked with Joe Ely, Jerry Jeff Walker, Delbert McClinton, Texas Tornadoes; 23 years with Crosswind Sound in Austin as Chief Engineer; engineered records, too (several Ely, Delbert, Jerry Jeff, Austin Lounge Lizards, Uranium Savages,Shakin' Apostles).
Born in Shreveport, Louisiana, then at age 8 moved to Dallas and then Irving, Texas; Austin (or nearby) since 1968; graduated high school in Austin; seven years at The University of Texas at Austin; one of the new guys in the Uranium Savages (band formed 1975, I joined 1979) -- guitar and vocals.
My wife, Pam, and I live about 20 miles outside of Austin on Onion Creek with Chester the bulldog, two more dogs and three cats; we were married out there on the land in 1990; moved out there and later built a house with our own hands; our only son, Jesse, moved back in to Austin where he is a junior at the University of Texas.
I've worked with many a great Texas musician, but when I went to work full time with Robert Earl Keen in August of 1999, it felt like home. He's the most generous, kind boss I've had (not to mention the best songwriter I've known). And damned funny, too. The music is wonderful, the band is the best, the camaraderie fun and it's a great place for me to be.