Robert Earl Keen - Happy Prisoner
  • Hot Corn, Cold Corn (Focus Track)
  • Vincent Black Lightning (Focus Track)
  • Footprints In The Snow (Bluegrass Single)
  • 99 Years For One Dark Day (featuring Peter Rowen) (Focus Track)
  • East Virginia Blues
  • Poor Ellen Smith
  • Long Black Veil
  • This World Is Not My Home
  • T For Texas (featuring Lyle Lovett) (Focus Track)
  • Peter Rowen Intro
  • Walls Of Time
  • White Dove
  • Old Home Place
  • Twisted Laurel
  • Wayfaring Stranger (featuring Natalie Maines)
  • Hot Corn, Cold Corn (Focus Track)
    Genre: Bluegrass
    MP3 (03:25) [7.82 MB]
  • Vincent Black Lightning (Focus Track)
    Genre: Bluegrass
    MP3 (03:58) [9.07 MB]
  • Footprints In The Snow (Bluegrass Single)
    Genre: Bluegrass
    MP3 (03:14) [7.39 MB]
  • 99 Years For One Dark Day (featuring Peter Rowen) (Focus Track)
    Genre: Bluegrass
    MP3 (02:56) [6.71 MB]
  • East Virginia Blues
    Genre: Bluegrass
    MP3 (03:34) [8.18 MB]
  • Poor Ellen Smith
    Genre: Bluegrass
    MP3 (03:47) [8.66 MB]
  • Long Black Veil
    Genre: Bluegrass
    MP3 (03:51) [8.82 MB]
  • This World Is Not My Home
    Genre: Bluegrass
    MP3 (03:17) [7.51 MB]
  • T For Texas (featuring Lyle Lovett) (Focus Track)
    Genre: Bluegrass
    MP3 (04:26) [10.15 MB]
  • Peter Rowen Intro
    Genre: Bluegrass
    MP3 (01:38) [3.74 MB]
  • Walls Of Time
    Genre: Bluegrass
    MP3 (04:39) [10.65 MB]
  • White Dove
    Genre: Bluegrass
    MP3 (03:13) [7.35 MB]
  • Old Home Place
    Genre: Bluegrass
    MP3 (02:58) [6.79 MB]
  • Twisted Laurel
    Genre: Bluegrass
    MP3 (02:46) [6.32 MB]
  • Wayfaring Stranger (featuring Natalie Maines)
    Genre: Bluegrass
    MP3 (04:14) [9.71 MB]
Biography
Robert Earl Keen – Happy Prisoner

Bluegrass Single: "Footprints In The Snow"

Focus Tracks:

1. "Hot Corn, Cold Corn"
2. "Vincent Black Lightning"
3. "Footprints In The Snow"
4. "99 Years For One Dark Day" (featuring Peter Rowan)
5. "T For Texas" (featuring Lyle Lovett)

Mention the name Robert Earl Keen, and several descriptive terms spring to mind – Texas singer-songwriter, career artist, brilliant storyteller, sardonic humorist, poet of the strange and familiar. And now with the release of his latest album, Happy Prisoner, there is what may seem a surprising addition to that list – bluegrass singer.

“I've had a lifelong love of bluegrass,” says Keen. “I've always had an affinity for music that I felt like you'd listen to in your living room. Music that felt real. My mom liked the old hillbilly music, and as a kid, I used to fall asleep listening to an 8-track tape of Jimmie Rodgers' greatest hits. When I was in 9th grade, one of my first dates was taking a girl to a bluegrass festival. That sounds crazy for someone in Texas. But I was fascinated with that music, even though it wasn't part of the gulf coast at all. When I started playing, my first guitar hero was Norman Blake. In college, I had a bluegrass band called the Front Porch Boys, went to fiddle contests, learned a jillion fiddle and old-timey songs. My whole education in music started with bluegrass.

“And that's partly where the album title comes from,” he continues. “I've been listening to it forever, I love it, and so I feel like I'm something of a happy prisoner of bluegrass."

As natural as it seemed then for Keen to tackle an album of bluegrass standards new and old, he admits that at the outset, he had serious doubts. “Early on, I realized I wasn't a bluegrass singer,” he says. “I was devastated when I first heard my voice on a playback because I didn't sound like the guys that I was trying to copy. I worked on trying to sing in their style, but that wasn't what came naturally to me, and my voice didn't fit it. I was just painfully aware of not being a bluegrass singer. Although, I felt like I had such a great passion and great respect for it, that I wouldn't really screw it up.

“So I started tip-toeing into the project, and putting together really good players and knowing what I was going to play, but still having some great apprehension how I would actually sound in a full-blown bluegrass musical surrounding.”

Why Bluegrass?

When I listen to music, I want the sound to wash
over me like a wave. I like to imagine the band or
the singer or the soloist in the same room with me.
Preferably, it’s a tiny wooden room that shakes in
time with the music. I want to put my head against
that magnificent upright bass and feel the thumping
drive of each note. I like to imagine sitting on
the floor watching the guitar player curled around
his instrument strumming for his life. How great is
it to hear people in a little bitty room singing
three-part harmony? How great is it to be smack
dab in the middle of that singing?

I’ve been lucky. My lifelong love of bluegrass
taught me how to feel music as well as hear it.
I’ve spent countless hours banging out fiddle tunes
and murder ballads with rank strangers. We never
missed a beat because we spoke only in bluegrass.
I’ve played my own brand of music from Gruene Hall
to Town Hall and loved every minute, but nothing
compares to a tiny room full of bluegrass picking.

So that’s what we did here. We played bluegrass

Robert Earl Keen- Lead vocals, acoustic guitar, tenor guitar, mandolin, harmony vocals
Danny Barnes- Banjo, acoustic “Chet” guitar, harmony vocals
Sara Watkins- Fiddle
Kym Warner- Mandolin
Bill Whitbeck- Upright Bass , bass percussion, harmony vocals
Rich Brotherton- Flat picking guitar, acoustic rhythm guitar, mandolin, cittern, harmony vocals
Tom Van Schaik- Percussion, harmony vocals
Marty Muse- Dobro
Dennis Ludiker- Fiddle
Chloe Keen- Ensemble violins on “Wayfaring Stranger”

New Video for "Hot Corn, Cold Corn" -


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  • Members:
    Natalie Maines, Lyle Lovett, Peter Rowen, Amy Warner, Robert Earl Keen, Sara Watkins, Kym Warner, Bill Whitbeck, Rich Brotherton, Tom Van Schaik, Marty Muse, Dennis Ludiker, Chloe Keen, Danny Barnes,
  • Sounds Like:
  • Influences:
  • AirPlay Direct Member Since:
    01/12/15
  • Profile Last Updated:
    01/25/20 11:15:13

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