Before there was any so-called Texas country craze, dating back to the mid-1980s, Robert Earl Keen was packing honky-tonks and bars around the state with his blended brand of folk, rock and country. There's little doubt that many Keen classics, primarily the epic "Road Goes on Forever" and the drunkenly jubilant "Merry Christmas From the Family," continue to be placed onto countless country playlists and mixtapes. To this day, in the midst of a younger, brasher regional scene, Keen has become a nationally recognized talent, producing one fine album after another, ignoring current trends in favor of his own instinctual excursions.
Keen's recently released album, The Happy Prisoner: The Bluegrass Sessions, is a perfect example of Keen — a Texas A&M alum, and current Hill Country resident — doing things his way, and doing them really damn well. Though Keen's songwriting prowess is basically unparalleled around these parts, his new record features acoustic-based versions of many classics without his name attached to them. The bluegrass flavor of this record makes Keen an even more ideal fit for Globe Trek Productions' busking series (with a little help this time from Placid Audio).
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On this video, Keen and his killer band take over the billiard tables of the "World's Largest Honky Tonk," before a performance later that night on the main stage of Billy Bob's Texas. Armed with a GoPro camera and a couple of older tunes — "Shades of Gray," from his 1997 Picnic album and the timeless Flatt and Scruggs gem, "Hot Corn, Cold Corn" — Keen and his band offer a taste of what a true front porch hoedown can be like here in Texas.