Each year at the MusicFest in Steamboat Springs, CO, musicians gather to honor a trailblazer in music. This past year it was Texas singer, songwriter, musician Robert Earl Keen. The MusicFest people joined forces with the folks at The Center for Texas Music History at Texas State University to bring in some of the best of the young Texas and Americana singer songwriters to give this tribute, many of whom haven't made their names felt yet; Matt Powell, Wade Bowen and Brandon Jenkins, but that makes their takes all the more refreshing; and the others that are breaking the barriers such as Reckless Kelly and Chris Knight. As a bonus Robert Earl Keen and his band get up on the stage and rock the joint with some of his biggest numbers and one new song, Goodbye Cleveland for the last five tracks.
Keen has spanned the spectrum with his songwriting and there are some good examples of the whole gamut of his writing here; from the poignant and touching "Corpus Christi Bay" [Darren Kozelsky (vocals, guitar) and Chris Claridy (harmony vocals, guitar)] to the more ruckus Reckless Kelly take of Think It Over One Time, to Front Porch Song, the tune he wrote with Lyle Lovett, done with a great background story by Dub Miller (vocals, fiddle) and Matt Skinner (guitar, backing vocals) His songs all reflect the sincerity of conviction that is a credit to both the writer and the person doing the singer. Whatever the song these are all heartfelt renditions that do the writer credit and show the singers' respect for the song and the material and the person behind it. Then the whole energy level gets kicked up a notch when Keen and his long time band hit the stage with the perfect opener, Wild Wind. His set showcases the range of his work which culminates with his anthem, The Road Goes On Forever, with some great work in the break that stretches from scat singing to battling fiddle and pedal steel guitar, fully showing off the power and versatility of his band. His songs have stretched the landscape of Americana and fused that line between Rock and Roll with Country/Folk music.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2009, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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