If you think it’s too early to start thinking about Cheapest Christmas costumes, I would agree. The sight of Christmas debris I spotted lining shelves at the local discount store this weekend, pushing Halloween and autumn decor aside, made me inwardly groan. Visions of Kenan Thompson’s now infamous Saturday Night Live skit, in which he declares it’s “too soon” for Yuletide decorations, echoed in my head.
But there is one holiday tradition to plan for that’s never too soon. It’s Americana icon Robert Earl Keen’s annual holiday show and some tickets for this coveted event, “Back to the Country Jamboree,” go on sale Monday, Sept. 18.
Hopefully you caught Keen taking part in last week’s landmark “Hand In Hand: A Benefit for Hurricane Relief” star-studded show, which raised more than $44 million. A native of Houston and a frequent visitor to the Florida Keys, Keen’s heart is with folks in both places. Keen was hand-picked by another Texas native, George Strait, to perform at the iconic Majestic Theatre in San Antonio alongside his longtime friend Lyle Lovett with Miranda Lambert and Chris Stapleton.
“It was show biz at its best,” Keen explained in a phone interview from Fort Worth, where he was scheduled to play Billy Bob’s on Saturday night. “When it’s great, it’s great beyond all imagining. Everyone was so cool and the music was so great. I don’t believe I can top the magic of the night. It was unbelievable.”
Keen is no stranger to making musical magic with a little help from his friends and longtime bandmates.
I had the pleasure of taking in last year’s “Merry Christmas From the Fam-O-Lee” show for the first time that featured the theme, “Country Gold Jamboree.” In addition to fan favorites, including the show’s title track as well as some of Keen’s classic hits “The Road Goes On Forever,” “Corpus Christi Bay” and “Gringo Honeymoon,” those in attendance at Nashville’s historic Ryman Theatre show were treated to his rendition of “Maria,” a song Keen penned made famous by Strait, as well as many others old and new.
The highlight of the show was arguably when each member of Keen’s all-star band dressed up as an iconic country singer and played a little something by that artist including Hank Williams, Willie Nelson and Waylon Jennings.