With 18 full-length albums that touch on genres ranging from bluegrass and folk to country and rock, beloved singer-songwriter Robert Earl Keen has firmly cemented his place as a living-legend of Americana music. The Houston, Texas native boasts a three-decade career and has toured across the U.S. and abroad, earning peer, critic, and fan admiration. On October 11, he's set to give a live, intimate performance at O.P. Rockwell in Park City the night after a sold out show at The State Room in Salt Lake City.
“We’re beyond thrilled to have Robert Earl Keen bring his incredible live performance. His honest songwriting, soulful sound, and incredible musicality will definitely make for an evening to remember. This will be a once-in-a-lifetime show,” said Scott Thomson, co-owner of O.P. Rockwell.
Ahead of the show, we had the chance to find out a little bit more about Keen from the man himself.
How do you feel your music has changed over time?
As you grow and experience life, you see more of what life has to offer. It opens all kinds of imagery that you can draw from to write songs. I feel much like the same person I was when I first started writing songs, but maybe I'm wiser and more open to different concepts.
Where do you draw inspiration for your music?
In a word: life. Really all the canvases of life. Whether it be a sunset, a person on a bicycle, fishing, playing music with friends, a child riding a horse. It comes from what we all see in the course of a day.
What other artists do you admire – in the music world or other fields? Is there anyone you would really like to collaborate with?
The most famous influence is Willie Nelson, but I liked Willie before Willie was cool. If you want to get a hint of that, pull up the Ernest Tubb show on YouTube. Willie was the special guest every week. But the person I tried to emulate was Norman Blake, I spent hundreds of hours trying to play like Norman. I know many of his songs and a few of his covers. I recorded “Billy Gray” on my Walking Distance album, and I first heard “Poor Ellen Smith” on Norman’s record. I recorded that song on my 2015 Bluegrass album Happy Prisoner. Of course Tammy Wynette, Townes Van Zandt, and Malcolm Holcomb have to be on the list, too. I also have great admiration for the author Cormac McCarthy.
What would be your advice for young people who want to get into the music business?
I like brute force and ignorance. That means never give up on your dreams and realizing it takes a lot of determination to succeed.
What do you hope people get out of your music?
I hope my music makes people happy, creates good memories, and possibly helps them through the hard times life throws at them.
You can catch live shows at O.P. Rockwell this fall every Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. Other guests this fall include: Silver Strike Band (Oct. 13), Snyderville Electric Band (Oct. 14), Michelle Moonshine (Oct. 20) and Cory Mon (Nov. 3).