Robert Earl Keen brings masterful, toe-tapping storytelling to Jazz Fest

Robert Earl Keen’s show May 4 at the New Orleans Jazz Fest is sure to draw an energetic crowd and is a guaranteed good time.

Related: Read more on the all-AXS Jazz Fest Guide

A REK performance always seems to turn into an unpredictable house party, with all fans—from the young teens on their first date to the middle aged parents—enjoying themselves. By the end of the night, there won’t be a single seat occupied, as everyone will be singing, clapping and dancing along.

Along with his ease on stage that can only come with more than three decades of performing, REK has an incredible wit to him and is a masterful storyteller. He seems to have a way with words that paints a perfectly clear picture of what he’s trying to convey. His voice is gruff, throaty and rough around the edges. In between songs he tells humorous stories about his past.

Even though he had a slow climb to the airwaves, REK has become known as a “songwriter’s songwriter.” Joe Ely and country supergroup the Highway Men have covered his most recognized song, “The Road Goes On Forever,” and his 18 albums have produced a back-catalogue that many young musicians can only dream of.

REK is one of Texas’ most notable and gifted songwriters, playing for enthusiastic crowds no matter where he may be, but especially in his home state of Texas.

Last year, Keen played a few shows with fellow Texas A&M alumni Lyle Lovett. The performances took form in much of the same way Lovett and Keen would have played on their front porch all those years ago – swapping songs back and forth with just an acoustic guitar.

Keen, for his live shows without Lovett, has surrounded himself with the same musicians for most of his adult career. Rich Brotherton (guitar), Bill Whitbeck (bass), Tom Van Schaik (drums) and Marty Muse (steel guitar) are consistently excellent and turn REK’s songs into a foot-stomping good time.

2014 will see REK release new music and continue to tour for no other reason than that is what he enjoys to do. As he sings, “the road goes on forever and the party never ends.”

Robert Earl Keen
Jazz Fest Performance: Sunday, May 2, 2014
Genre: Country
Go see this if: You want to hear some humorous stories and toe-tapping music.