Music Picks: Robert Earl Keen, Jay Z and More

The insane run of arena tours ends this Saturday with Jay Z, who follows his wife and a couple of former proteges into American Airlines Center. There are a few straggling Christmas concerts, and New Year's Eve is right around the corner.

Kopecky Family Band

Thursday, December 19, at Live Oak Music Hall, Fort Worth

The Kopecky Family Band is not an actual family like, say, the gang in Eisley. In fact, the only Kopecky in this band is Kelsey, who is one of the singers. They view this name differently than most because they believe music can make a family as easily as blood can. "My Way" off their latest album, Kids Raising Kids, takes your assumptions about what a Nashville-based band should sound like, tosses them in a blender and gleefully hits puree. This dreamy, doo-wop-tinged number explodes into rocking choruses and features a horn section that suddenly appears in a manner reminiscent of the wedding scene from Love, Actually. And all the while, Kopecky's echoing vocals sound like an apparition calling out to you in the middle of the night. Country, Americana and folk tunes are fine, but that's not what this Family is all about. Brian Palmer

Robert Earl Keen's Merry Christmas from the Fam-o-lee Christmas Show

Thursday, December 19, at House of Blues

Americana music can hardly have a better representative than Houston's Robert Earl Keen. Besides the plethora of quality country and folk music the guy has released over the past four decades, Keen's semi-annual holiday concerts have become known as both family-friendly and raucously celebratory. This time around, Terri Hendrix and Lloyd Maines are along for the ride, making this show a glorious triple bill of talented pickers and grinners. Along with the usual Christmas favorites, expect a ton of secular songs that revel in all things rural and covertly revolutionary. Darryl Smyers

Reckless Kelly

Friday, December 20, at House of Blues

Reckless Kelly may have a soothing country sound but they haven't been afraid to use them to tackle subjects that can make any human with a heart madder than hell, such as the botched rescue efforts following Hurricane Katrina in "God Forsaken Town" and the war in Iraq in "Ragged as the Road." The band's latest album, "Long Night Moon," represents a return to a lighter country sound with dispatches from a life on the road and reflections on loves lost, longing for life and all the other lamentations that make mellow country songs. Expect an interesting mix of both when the band takes to the House of Blues main stage. Danny Gallagher

Jay Z

Saturday, December 21, at American Airlines Center

There may not have been a more crassly commercial album release in 2013 than Jay Z's Magna Carta Holy Grail. He "sold" the first million copies to Samsung in the form of an app. The promotional cycle involved flying Rick Rubin out to a loft in New York somewhere to nod studiously while Jay Z talked about dualities and the wild, wild West, in spite of the fact that Rick Rubin had exactly nothing to do with the record. But Jay Z has always championed commercialism, and his brazen commitment to it doesn't change his stature. You weren't going to the show for the new material no matter what it sounded like. You were going for maybe the greatest rapper ever, standing tall and delivering the classics, and you won't be disappointed. Kiernan Maletsky

KEEP THE DALLAS OBSERVER FREE... Since we started the Dallas Observer, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Dallas, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
DC9 at Night Writers