The three Bobs that are slated for coverage on this blog are Bob Dylan, bobwhite quail and Bob (Robert Earl) Keen. There has been plenty of mention of Bob Dylan in the last few weeks. Recent posts included a review of his show at the MGM (See August 16) that ended up getting a link on bobdylan.com.
I am saving most of the quail posts until we get to the beginning of the season. There will be plenty of news and updates from Jim Hogg County this winter.
I guess that leaves Mr. Keen for a post now. This works well because I made a promise to get back to the modern era for a post or two and I just caught his live show at the Nokia Theatre in New York City last night.
For those of you who are not familiar with Robert, he is a Texas singer songwriter who got his start in the music business while attending Texas A&M University. There, he lived with Lyle Lovett and wrote the Front Porch Song, which they have both recorded. His best known song is The Road Goes on Forever, which has been covered by many other artists including Joe Ely and also The Highwaymen and has added that phrase to the English language. (At least in Texas)
In my opinion, he is the best Texas songwriter working today. He writes songs in the tradition of other great Texas writers like Townes Van Zandt, Guy Clark, and Billy Joe Shaver. His words are lyrical and insightful and he stays away from the name checking of country themes that is so common today. His work is much better than the crap that is being turned out in Nashville for the radio today. Toby Keith, Big & Rich, Sugarland, Taylor Swift....these artists can't carry water for REK.
Back to last night. After a drink and a quick dinner at Granny's House on 54th Street, I headed down to the theatre for a visit backstage before the show. I had a great time with Bill Whitbeck, the bass player in the band, who has to be one of the most enthusiastic Dylan fans I have ever met. We had a great conversation and convinced ourselves that Bob was the King without much trouble.
When the show began, I was sitting on the stage just to the side of Rich Brotherton, the guitar player, which was a perfect vantage point for all the action. The band sounded great. Robert was in good voice and the crowd was fired up.
If you haven't seen Robert live, I urge you to catch a show. He has a real connection with his fans and this is evident during the live shows. Robert always tells a story or two with the songs and this adds to the fun for everyone. He is very charismatic on stage.
The band has been together for a long time, so you get a nice ensemble feel to the music. Marty's steel guitar adds a traditional country sound to the otherwise Alt-County music. Rich is excellent on a variety of leads. Bill and Tom make up a solid rhythm section.
All and all, it was a magical night. My only regret is that I wasn't able to go on to Woodstock and hear them open for Levon Helm at the Ramble tonight.
Recommended REK albums include the recent What I Really Mean, A Bigger Piece of Sky and Picnic. All are available at Amazon or on iTunes. Check him out.