TB, as has been said before, ain’t no music critic. But I do like Robert Earl Keen and it just so happened he was playing a show at The Lyric in Oxford Friday night, so I went to watch it. The first thing I noticed as I came in the doors–ok, the second thing, after locating the bar–was that the crowd was decent but not large and that the college crowd was small relative to the old timers like me out for a special occasion. I don’t know if REK doesn’t resonate with the gang under 30 any more or if they are clued in to information I don’t have about the quality of his show lately, but I can say he wasn’t up to the standard he set the first time I saw him several years ago in Charleston, S.C.
The show started really slow, really mellow, and though I don’t have any first hand knowledge of the band’s pre-show routine, it appeared to me that Robert Earl was really high. The tunes were introspective and the expression on REK’s face was a perma-grin, like he was onto some joke to which the rest of us weren’t privy. The perma-grin, some might call it a (redacted)-eatin grin stayed the whole show, but fortunately the song list picked up in the second hour and most of the crowd was able to join in the pickin and grinnin and singin, TB included. The second hour of the show the band played classics like “Gringo Honeymoon”, “Feelin Good Again”, and his signature song, “The Road Goes on Forever.” At an hour and a half the guys took their bow. I knew an encore was coming, but I was pretty disgusted the show was going to be so short. REK came back out solo for the encore and played and told stories for about 15 minutes, and then surprised me by bringing the band back out for what amounted to a shorter second set rather than a typical encore, which was nice. He ended up going well over the two hour period I was hoping for and in spite of the slow start and the nagging feeling that he had mailed in this performance, I had a great time and I’m glad I got to see him again.
Saturday morning was a little rough on me, but after a little caffeine and sugar I was ready to brave the crowds and headed for the Square and the Double Decker Festival. There were several acts we were interested in catching a bit of including Charlie Mars and George McConnell and both these guys along with several other bands I wasn’t familiar with all put on nice shows. The weather was perfect–mid 70’s, bright sunshine and a gentle breeze–right in the sweet spot. The food was good, if overpriced. The crowd was manageable. It was really a great day. On top of all that TB received my first interview request since the origination of the blog. Not that the request had anything to do with the blog, or even me at all. I actually think it was my beautiful daughter that got the attention of the local reporter, but as she’s too young to talk he was left to ask me the questions. At any rate, it was my chance to get some publicity. What follows is a transcript of our conversation. In italics is what we said to one another and what will appear in some form in the local rag. In parentheses is what I would’ve said if I hadn’t completely choked.
Reporter–Hi, do you mind if I ask you a few questions?
TB–Sure, go ahead. (Sure, go ahead.)
Reporter, after getting names and hometowns–So, are you having a good time at the festival?
TB–Absolutely. It’s a beautiful day for it. (Absolutely. It’s a beautiful day for it.”)
Reporter–What brought you up to Oxford?
TB–Ummm, <to self–thinkthinkthink> we like to be outdoors? Like to look around. Oh yeah, food. (Well, you see, I have this blog, http://www.Travellinbaen.com and I thought this would be an interesting event to write about. I really dig Robert Earl Keen, as do many of the readers of Travellinbaen.com and I wanted to check out his show. Also, I’m looking forward to the George McConnell set to see how he’s evolved since his Widespread Panic days.)
Reporter–That’s really great <blank stare>. How did you find out about it?
TB–Ummmmm <to self–don’t screw it up again, thinkthink> we are alumni? My in-laws live here. But they’re out of town this weekend. Well, not both of them. We always come. <to self–Dang> Say, you’ll clean up my quotes a little, right? (Oh, my office, the Ben White Law Firm–that’s B-E-N etc had some meetings up this way and it made sense to mix a little business with pleasure. That, combined with my Travellinbaen blog work helps me stay abreast of all the major events in the area.”)
Reporter–The quotes are fine. <blank stare> What’s your favorite part of the day?
TB–Ummmm <to self–please let this end soon> outdoors? Weather. FOOD! (For me its the chance to see so many old friends and fans of the blog, Travellinbaen.com, and of course to meet with some of the Ben White Law Firm’s important clientele.)
Reporter–That’s great. Have a nice day.
TB–<calling after reporter, who quickly disappeared into the crowd> WAIT! You’re not going to print that are you? I want to start over, I just thought of some stuff! (You’re doing a great job son. Here’s my card. Have a nice day.)
TB–<to RockStar> That didn’t go so well did it?
RockStar–It wasn’t your finest moment.
I choked on my food and then audibly laughed at the painful digressions in the paragraph about your in-laws.
I think you and I have joked about digressions back in the day when we were both single. You’re talking to a girl, you’re a little nervous, and you get tangled up in the endless digression speech.
“Oh, you’re from there? I’ve got close family that lives there. Well, they’re not that close. Second cousins. And I only see them at family reunions. Not that I go to my family reunion every year. Boy, what a spaz I’d be if I did that. I hate my family. Well, I don’t hate them — they’re my family. I love them. But, you know, they’re dorky. Of course, I’m not dorky. I’m a good guy. But I’m not conceited either. I’m humble. Real humble. (You pause as you mentally review the dead bodies that you’ve just littered this beautiful pastoral setting with.) So, yeah, I know where you’re from.”
To Self: Somebody just shoot me. I suck.
DW, its not kind to come over to another’s blog and be funnier than the host.
I think I’ve actually witnessed the digression speech and did not know it! Funny!
when a buddy is digressing as such, the tough question for an ARB is whether or not to rescue him by jumping into the conversation or just to sit there sipping your beer and grinning while you watch your ARB suffer.
What’s with the “anonymous?” I updated my page a few days ago to drop the “wordpress” from the name. You can still use it, but can also just use “travellinbaen.com” now. Maybe that dumped your sign in info.
Anyway, since when is that a tough question? I never knew a Goula ARB to step in and assist and God knows I could’ve used the help plenty of times.
Most ARB’s I had just sit back and laugh, then after its over they add to it by exagerating what really happened. TB was good at that.
I was the second Anonymous post, but it was not intentional. My name no longer appears automatically with my response for some reason.
TB, please have your IT department investigate this at once.
TB, glad to hear you had a good time at DD. I was highly disappointed to miss this year, because of several of the acts. That and the last couple of years I spent in Oxford, I lived just on the north side of the square, and could be at any of the stages within about two minutes of leaving my house, so that was fantastic.
I actually interviewed McConnell back during the heady days of the Average Joe Morning Show on Rebel Radio. I imagine him and REK could have a contest on who is higher during a performance. GM was out of his gourd when he came in for the interview and it got worse after we got through with him. I wish I still had the tape of that interview, I’m sure there was plenty of forgotten questions and comments during that.
The very heart of your writing while appneriag reasonable at first, did not settle perfectly with me after some time. Somewhere throughout the sentences you actually managed to make me a believer but only for a while. I still have a problem with your leaps in logic and one might do well to help fill in those breaks. In the event that you can accomplish that, I will undoubtedly end up being fascinated.
His hairstyle and lntgeh of hair on video of interview and at the time he got passport is the same. So is his dress, same shirt, same necktie. I would guess the video was made on the same day.