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.
Over time, Robert Earl Keen has recorded 19 albums and has thousands of shows under his belt and still no end in sight. From his humble beginnings on the folk scene, he has blazed a peer, critic and fan-based trail that’s earned him living legend (not to mention pioneer) status in the Americana music world. Although he has never been known to wear his Texas heart on his sleeve, he has long been regarded as one of the state’s finest (not to mention top drawing) true singer/songwriter. Keen remains as committed to and inspired by his muse as ever.
REK has led his road savvy band from coast to coast where they have carved out a place in the Americana pantheon alongside writers/performers Steve Earle, Lyle Lovett, Patty Griffin, Gillian Welch, Sara Watkins and Jamey Johnson among others. Keen and his band have sold out venerable performance halls including New York’s Irving Plaza, Nashville, Ryman Auditorium, Fort Worth’s Bass Hall, Austin’s Moody Theater and San Francisco’s Fillmore West. Keen’s twentieth anniversary of his much celebrated, iconic hit compilation, #2 Live Dinner brought out a crowd of over 5000 fans who were treated to a once in a life time experience when REK and his band joined forces with fellow troubadours, Lyle Lovett, Joe Ely, Bruce Robison, Cody Canada, Reckless Kelly, a Cory Morrow, former bandmates Bryan Duckworth and Mark Patterson and many more for a night of song and friendship. This epic performance culminated in the live recording and subsequent release of “Live Dinner Reunion” in 2016.
In April of 2015, REK was honored to be a part of the Grammy’s On The Hill Texas delegation to lobby music creator’s rights before Congress. March 2015 brought him back to Nashville where he was presented the very first BMI Troubadour Songwriter’s Songwriter Award. In 2012, he was inducted into the Texas Heritage Songwriters Hall of Fame along with the late, great Townes Van Zandt and his college friend, Lyle Lovett.
It isn’t always easy being Robert Earl Keen, but somebody’s got to do it. And now more than ever he is up to the task and loving every minute of it.