For more there’s nothing more classic Christmas than Robert Earl Keen. Celebrate Christmas his way with this mamachallenge.com exclusive and get your tickets to a “Fam-O-Lee Back to the Country Jamboree” in Fort Worth, Dec. 30 at Bass Performance Hall.
“Carve the turkey turn the ballgame on
Make margaritas when the eggnog’s gone
Send somebody to the Quik Pak Store…
We need some icing and extension cords…”
Growing up this song describes my family Christmas to a tee I heard it the first time, but more so it would be the first of many R.E.K. lyrics that would become our anthems growing up in small town Texas. As I look back at those big memorable moments in my life, Robert Earl Keen is often the soundtrack.
So when asked if I would like to talk with the Texas singer/songwriter to chat about his upcoming show at Bass Performance Hall featuring my favorite Christmas song, “Fam-O-Lee Back to the Country Jamboree, “I kinda fanned out. A LOT. You have no idea how big of a dork I acted.
But after I gained my composure and a few minutes into chatting with Robert Earl Keen (always by his full name because it never sounds right saying it any other way), like his songs, I’m calmed and collected, and brought to my happy place.
That and that just listening to hi say anything reminded me of all the stories he shares before he belts into one of his own songs…The same stories that have connected him to audiences for decades. Except this time, was my own moment…
And like you’d hope and expect, everything about him is just what I thought: a good ole boy that’s thankful each time he heads to the stage to do what he loves, his way. A man, I would find out, spends his life pretty normal in Kerrville, Texas where he describes it as a lot like “Leave it to Beaver.” Except quite possibly the way he actually spends his Christmas.
“I’m known for my making homemade personalized pizzas on Christmas Eve,” he shared when asked how close his Christmas is to the song that was released in 1994. “Everyone comes over and I spend hours making 20 or so pizzas for all my friends and family,” he continued. “Then on Christmas Day we eat Lasagne.”
While I didn’t expect the Italian twist, REKs own personal Christmas tradition encapsulates his own way of authentic, “real way” of sharing much like the recent $55M fundraiser he played in this September “Hand in Hand: A Benefit for Hurricane Harvey Relief” with George Strait, Miranda Lambert, Chris Stapleton, Lyle Lovett and tons of celebrities taking donations over the phone or as the headliner on October 21 for Deep From The Heart Concert at Texas A&M University hosted by former living U.S. Presidents performing alongside Alabama, Cassadee Pope, Lady Gaga and more.
Yes, it was as perfect as it gets,” he shared. “The music was just stellar.”
But as star-studded as that evening was, it’s the less than red-carpeted evenings I had to know more about.
“So Robert Earl Keen, is “Merry Christmas from the Family” real or is it just a fun song that all the words came together to make it a hit?” I bravely asked finally.
He took a deep breath and began his story in only the way REK could, began to share how the “Christmas song,” a song that would become the impetus for the Christmas production many years later, came to be.
“Right before Christmas, to amuse myself, I just wrote about Christmas just off hand, with these words of my experiences in Houston growing up that I had in the back of my head,” he began. And in 20 minutes, it was done, so I just put it in my back pocket. Then one day I was sharing some music to production guy and it wasn’t going great. Then the guy asked ‘Well, is that all you got?’ I was pretty frustrated so I just started to play it…and he said ‘That’s the best song you have here.’ And that was the tipping point.”
While “Merry Christmas from the Family” is one of REKs most popular songs so much so that he actually had to put a “Linen Rule” on when he plays it, “Coming Home” stands as his own possible favorite (as well as mine.) But when it comes to Christmas tunes, he shared “O Holy Night” is one of his all time favorites as well as “Santa Claus is Coming to Town.”
And the Town this Santa is coming to is what Keen calls ‘his favorite city in Texas’ – Fort Worth.”
And the Town this Santa is coming to is what Keen calls “his favorite city in Texas,” Fort Worth, for his one-night performance of the “Fam-O-Lee Back to the Country Jamboree.” The show is described as it “brings visions of sugar plums, elves and maybe a cow or two while families bond with those closest to them at what is sure to become a favorite, non-stop laughing, holiday tradition!”
But honestly, Robert Earl Keen has long been a holiday tradition for many of us for a long-time now.
See the show:
Dec. 30 at 7 pm
Bass Performance Hall
Fort Worth, Texas