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Robert Earl Keen with Opening Act TBA
"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 do just that.
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 Keen's legacy. From the get-go, Keen wanted to write and sing his own songs, and to keep writing and singing them for as long as possible.
Now with 21 records to his name, a band of stellar musicians, and thousands of shows under his belt, there is no end in sight to the road ahead. In July of 2021, POLLSTAR ranked Keen on its Top 20 Global Concert Tours, proof that he has blazed a peer, critic, and fan-lauded trail that's earned him living-legend and pioneer status in the Americana music world.
"Americana" style was officially recognized by the music industry in 1998. Robert Earl Keen was the genre's first artist to be featured on the Americana Music Chart and on the debut cover of the radio trade magazine The Gavin Report featuring Americana. Keen continues to blaze a trail for other artists with Producer, Clara Rose, and their Americana Podcast. In 2019 Americana Podcast launched with the inaugural episode featuring Jamestown Revival and Lucero. The Americana Podcast has furthered the interest in artists Billy Strings, Lori McKenna, Drew Holcomb and I'm With Her.
A Houston native, REK has for three decades been regarded as one of the Lone Star State's finest true singer-songwriters. He enjoyed a homecoming at the 2019 Houston Rodeo when he performed with college friend, Lyle Lovett, ahead of George Strait to the record-breaking audience of over 80,000 attendees.
Keen was weaned on classic rock and Willie Nelson records. By the time he entered Texas A&M University, he was teaching himself guitar playing Bluegrass and setting his poetic musings to song. These early days are captured in spirit on the Keen/Lyle Lovett co-write, "The Front Porch Song," which both artists recorded on their respective debut albums, and in Happy Prisoner, REK's bluegrass recording.
Robert Earl Keen's journey brought him back to the town of College Station in 2018 to accept the Texas A&M Distinguished Alumni Award. An award given to 281 of Texas A&M's 488,500 former students since 1962. This honor recognizes those Aggies who have achieved excellence in their chosen professions and made meaningful contributions to Texas A&M University and their local communities.
From the front porch days Keen took the road less travelled, self-financing, and producing No Kinda Dancer. Keen started to make a name for himself winning the Kerrville Folk Festival's prestigious New Folk Songwriting Competition. Kerrville is the home of The Hill Country Youth Orchestras, a free orchestra for students which Keen has supported with a benefit concert annually. His efforts have raised more than $1,000,000 in support of music education.