Robert Earl Keen

No. 2 Live Dinner

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Robert Earl Keen, Jr. is a Texan who did not take the express lane to the radio airwaves. Instead, he spent more than a decade seasoning his talent while entertaining folks in the -- yep, you guessed it -- friendly honky tonks of Texas, where music fans tend to like individualists with plenty of personality. No. 2 Live Dinner finished off a consistently powerful string of albums recorded for Sugar Hill Records. Taped in front of rowdy, beer-swilling crowds in two Texas towns, Keen bears his good-natured raspiness into songs of desperation, danger, and raucous humor. A contemporary of Steve Earle, Lyle Lovett, and Nanci Griffith, Keen's work has been as consistent and occasionally as strong as that of his friends. It's taken him longer to gain a national profile, but it's coming at a deserving time. For those unfamiliar with him, this live album will convey how well he's loved in his home state. Listen closely, and the songs will explain why, too.

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