Review: Robert Earl Keen outdoes himself at Aspen gig
ASPEN – Last Saturday’s performance by Robert Earl Keen at Aspen’s Wheeler Opera House was my third year in a row seeing the Texas-born singer-songwriter, and it was by far the best show I’ve seen from the man and his band.Not only did REK have more energy than last year, his performance was much more solid. And judging from the audience members – many of whom were dancing in the aisles and in the front of the house – they would agree.REK got a rousing response and sing-a-longs from the crowd when he played the old favorites like “Merry Christmas from the Family” and “Feelin’ Good Again.” Those two songs alone prove to me why the man inspires such a devoted and fanatical fan following.The show was nearly sold out, and it was clear that REK knew just how strong his fan base is here. And it was obvious that he loves the Wheeler. Why wouldn’t he? It’s simply an excellent venue for acoustic performances and a stage for engaging the audience.REK rapped with the crowd between songs, and as a Texas A&M alum and later an Austin resident, REK offered his condolences to the crowd of Longhorn fans, who suffered an agonizing loss to Alabama in the BCS title two nights earlier.I didn’t become a fan of REK until a few years ago when a friend of mine from Texas introduced me to his music when we attended the 2007 show. I was pleasantly surprised, and still am, by his ability to make me laugh, cry and slap my knee to his guitar strumming and unforgettable lyrics.I’m not a diehard fan of country music, but REK presents the genre in a storytelling manner that resonates with you. His performance that night brought out that rowdy barroom fun that he’s known for.The crowd was enamored with songs from REK’s recently-released “Rose Hotel” album, of which the highlights were “The Man Behind the Drums” and the album’s title track, “Rose Hotel.”Other favorites like “Luther’s Daddy, “Jesse with the Long Hair,” “The Road Goes on Forever,” “I’m Comin’ Home,” and “Gringo Honeymoon” were just as appreciated.But the most appreciated by me are REK’s lyrics to two favorites of mine that he played: “All I Have is Today” and “I’m Going to Live Forever,” the latter of which he played as an encore acoustically with his band.The show left me with a warm heart and renewed love for the singer-songwriter. The lyrics from “I’m Going to Live Forever” are still dancing in my head …I’m gonna live foreverI’m gonna cross that riverI’m gonna catch tomorrow nowYou’re gonna wanna hold meJust like I always told youYou’re gonna miss me when I’m goneNobody here will ever find meBut I always be aroundJust like the songs I leave behind meI’m gonna live forever firstname.lastname@example.org
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Oral family history provides context that textbooks lack. Tying personal experience to collective events renders them relevant. Most of us have family oral history going back only a few generations, but that spans more history than you might think.