Robert Earl Keen has always been known as a dynamic live performer, and his tenth album ‘ Farm Fresh Onions ‘ captures the energy and drive of his concerts in a studio album. The album, released October 7, 2003, marks his debut for Audium/Koch Records, features 11 new Keen original songs along with one by James McMurtry (‘Out Here In The Middle.’)
Longtime friend and colleague Shawn Colvin contributes vocals on the McMurtry-penned song, and former Faces/Rolling Stones keyboardist Ian McLagan appears on several of the tracks. But beyond that, the album is all about Keen’s longtime performing and recording band. Rich Brotherton, Keen’s guitar player, produced the album (he also recently produced the debut album by Caroline Herring.) And bassist Bill Whitbeck co-wrote a track titled ‘Let The Music Play.’
Recorded in Austin, Texas, the album was mixed by Ed Cherney (Bonnie Raitt, Rolling Stones) in Los Angeles.
In describing the new album, Keen says, ‘For fans of the live show, this album takes it one step further into the beauty of vibrant live music ‘ created in the studio. It’s a band record. I have a touring band like Willie, Dylan, Neil or B.B. The fans come not just to see me, but to see us.’
A recording like he describes can come only with road miles, and Keen will continue to average 125 ‘ 140 days on the road per year. ‘In fact, it’s looking even worse with this one,’ he says, referring to a nonstop summer, fall and winter itinerary. He will also continue to present his travelling ‘Texas Uprising’ revue in several cities per year. Keen has leveraged his prolific road life into achieving Top 50 status on Pollstar’s ‘Top Grossing Acts’ on three different occasions.
Keen has been selling out shows from Maine to Mexico and from Washington, DC to Seattle, Washington for the past ten years. He has performed on ‘Austin City Limits’ five times, and on ‘Late Night with Conan O’Brien’ four times. And he has anchored BMI’s SXSW showcase for many years on end.
Keen’s songwriting credits are numerous as well, having contributed songs to the Dixie Chicks, Nanci Griffith, Lyle Lovett, Kelly Willis, George Strait, Gillian Welch, Johnny Rodriguez and the Highwaymen, among others.
The new album gleans its title from one of its songs, the idea for which came when Keen brought home some grapefruit in a bag that read ‘Farm Fresh Onions.’ His wife saw that and told Keen he needed to write a song by that name. ‘Ever since the beginning,’ he explains, ‘I’ve felt that if there’s any way you should fall, it’s on the fun side of things. So the song seemed like a natural.’
‘This album is about being able to tap your toes. And I know it worked when my eight-year-old daughter said to me, ‘Dad, you put more music on this album.’ It’s true!’
Robert Earl Keen : Farm Fresh Onions Track Listing
1 Furnace Fan
2 All I Have Is
3 Out Here In The Middle
4 Train Trek
5 Farm Fresh Onions
6 Floppy Shoes
7 Gone On
8 So Sorry Blues
9 Beats The Devil
10 These Years
11 Famous Words
12 Let The Music Play
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