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Robert Earl Keen celebrates 20th anniversary of ‘No. 2 Live Dinner’ with new album, tour that kicks off Nov. 29

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Americana music icon Robert Earl Keen has released “Live Dinner Reunion” 20 years after he released “No. 2 Live Dinner,” his biggest-selling album to date. But this time he has brought along a few friends including friend and recent touring partner Lyle Lovett, Joe Ely, Cory Morrow, Cody Canada of Cross Canadian Ragweed and The Departed, Cody Braun of Reckless Kelly and Bruce Robison along with some 5,000 fans.

If you haven’t had the chance to see REK live, now is your chance and I highly recommend it. I had the opportunity to see him perform live a few years ago at Red Wing Roots Festival and he put on one of the best live shows I have seen.

Following is the press release announcing the new album and some upcoming tour stops including the historic Ryman Theatre in Nashville, Tennessee.

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To celebrate the 20th anniversary of the milestone record, he returned to the legendary John T. Floore’s Country Store in the Texas Hill Country town of Helotes and upped the ante by inviting a few friends and fellow Americana and Texas Music stars to sing along. They include Lyle Lovett, Joe Ely, Cory Morrow, Cody Canada of Cross Canadian Ragweed and The Departed, Cody Braun of Reckless Kelly and Bruce Robison. Some 5,000 fans added their voices to the historic occasion.

The result is a rousing double-disc celebration, Live Dinner Reunion, set for release November 18, 2016 on Dualtone Records, an Entertainment One company. Die-hard fans can snare a double vinyl album early 2017. Live Dinner Reunion is available for preorder now.

Keen’s expectations for Live Dinner Reunion are a bit higher this time around. “It was a really great night. I’m sure a lot of people will like it,” he says slyly. “It’s a good cross section of my songs and my friends singing my songs. For instance, Lyle and I sang ‘This Old Porch,’ Bruce sang ‘No Kinda Dancer,’ and Cory sang ‘I’ll Go On Downtown.'”

To recreate the unique vibe of the original live album, he returned to Floore’s, a Texas-style dance hall and cafe with a storied history reaching back to 1942. It features rustic signs and sayings, worn wooden floors, scores of cowboy boots nailed to the ceiling and an outdoor stage for large crowds.

Its legendary bills include Hank Williams, Elvis Presley, Bob Wills, Ernest Tubb, Patsy Cline, George Jones, Merle Haggard, Waylon Jennings and Willie Nelson, who was a weekly regular in the 1960s before he became a household name.

“Robert Earl Keen’s show at Floore’s Country Store celebrating the 20th anniversary of the quintessential No. 2 Live Dinner was the stuff of honky-tonk legend. A night that reminded us why we love live music,” says Mark McKinney of Floore’s.

When his career was just taking off in 1990, Keen finally landed a gig at Floore’s. Now he returns there once a year. “I’ve always had a great time there,” he says. “I really love that place, the whole outdoor space where everybody can move around.”

Keen, a member of the Texas Heritage Songwriters Hall of Fame, also speaks fondly of Floore’s during the banter between songs on the album, saying it’s one of the last open-air honky-tonks in the United States and even in Texas, which is known for its dance halls.

Another time, he recalls always having good weather during gigs there. “I literally played one time and got offstage, and the whole ceiling dropped out of the clouds and it just rained and rained and rained,” he says. “There were frogs floating on the dance floor where you are right now.”

Tall Texas tale or not, it’s just one of the special moments that propels Live Dinner Reunion into the stratosphere of live albums. The repartee of Keen and the other artists, the crowd’s response, the songs and inspired musicianship combine to magically create the album’s you-are-there experience.

From No. 2 Live Dinner, Keen revisits the classics “Gringo Honeymoon,” “Amarillo Highway” and the cheerfully dysfunctional holiday of “Merry Christmas From the Fam-O-Lee.” Others include “Corpus Christi Bay,” “Wild Wind” with Cody Braun, “Lonely Feelin'” with Cody Canada, “Feelin’ Good Again” and “I Gotta Go.”

One curve ball is “Ding Dong Daddy From Dumas,” the wacky yet catchy western swing song that Keen covered on Asleep at the Wheel’s latest tribute album to Bob Wills. It features Keen’s original bandmates drummer Mark Paterson and fiddler Bryan Duckworth, Keen’s friend since third grade.

Keen also presents three songs from his latest studio album, Happy Prisoner: The Bluegrass Sessions, which topped Billboard’s bluegrass chart for three consecutive weeks, becoming the No. 2 best-selling bluegrass album of 2015 and making Keen the No. 2 best-selling bluegrass artist of that year. They are “Hot Corn, Cold Corn, “Ninety-Nine Years for One Dark Day” and “T for Texas,” a duet with Lyle Lovett.

Two musicians who played on Happy Prisoner and the album tour joined Keen’s touring band – The Greencards founding member Kym Warner, a four-time winner of the Australian National Bluegrass Mandolin Championship, and fiddler Brian Beken, front man for MilkDrive. His long-time band members are guitarist Rich Brotherton, bassist Bill Whitbeck, drummer Tom Van Schaik and steel guitarist Marty Muse. “The band has a real fat sound now,” Keen said.

As at all Keen’s concerts, Live Dinner Reunion closes with “The Road Goes on Forever.” Joe Ely, who covered the song on his 1992 album Love and Danger, sings the lead and closes it by saying, “Robert Earl Keen – thank you for writing that song.”

Ely didn’t have to thank him for the reunion. The crowd said it all, chanting, “Robert Earl Keen, Robert Earl Keen, Robert Earl Keen …”

Live Dinner Reunion Track Listing:

  1. Cody Canada – Tell It Like It Is
  2. Feelin’ Good Again
  3. Gringo Honeymoon
  4. State of Thanks Address
  5. I Gotta Go
  6. Lucky Weather
  7. Intro Lyle Lovett and This Old Porch
  8. T for Texas (w/ Lyle Lovett)
  9. Write A Drinking Song
  10. Hot Corn, Cold Corn
  11. Cory’s Story
  12. I’ll Go On Downtown (w/Cory Morrow)
  13. Ding Dong Daddy From Dumas (w/ Mark Patterson & Bryan Duckworth)
  14. On The Money (w/Bruce Robison)
  15. No Kinda Dancer (w/Bruce Robison)
  16. Boys In The Band
  17. Shade Of Gray
  18. Deliverance Dry Cleaning
  19. Ninety-Nine Years for One Dark Day
  20. Amarillo Highway
  21. Wild Wind (w/Cody Braun)
  22. Merry Christmas From The Fam-O-Lee
  23. Corpus Christi Bay
  24. Lonely Feelin’ (w/Cody Canada)
  25. Grateful Cred
  26. The Road Goes On Forever (w/Joe Ely)

Robert Earl Keen On Tour:

 

12/8 

Greenville, TX

*Greenville Municipal Auditorium

12/9

Waco, TX

*Waco Hippodrome Theatre

12/10

Goliad, TX

*Schroeder Dance Hall

12/15

Midland, TX

*Wagner-Noel Performing Arts Center

12/16

OK City, OK

*Huidburg Chevrolet Center

12/17

San Antonio, TX

Aztec Theatre

12/20

Austin, TX

*ACL Live at the Moody Theater

12/26

Houston, TX

**House of Blues

12/28

Nashville, TN

+Ryman Auditorium

12/29

Dallas, TX

**House of Blues

12/30

Fort Worth, TX

**Bass Performance Hall

*Hot Club of Cowtown

**Junior Brown

+Doyle & Debbie

 

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