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Crank your favorite REK tunez today

2010 BamaJam Music & Arts Festival - Day 1 Photo by Rick Diamond/Getty Images

Standin' down on Main Street
Across from Mr. Blues’
In my faded leather jacket
And my weathered Brogan shoes
A chill north wind was blowin'
But the spring was comin' on
As I wondered to myself
Just how long I had been gone

I first saw REK while I was in high school. At Floore’s Country Store in Helotes, not long after the first live album was recorded there. The Dixie Chicks(!) opened for him. They were still wearing frilly skirts and playing traditional bluegrass. Anyway. His band hit the energy hard and got the crowd into it from the first riffs. It was loud, it was good, and it just gave everyone there a good feeling. I got hooked.

Over the next few years I explored more of the older stuff. Hit Picnic and Walking Distance hard when they came out. Saw him a few more times. His music was firmly woven into the background of my college experience, and it’s still there on regular rotation in my playlists. I’m sure many of you feel the same.

Sometimes when we need a distraction in life, what we need most is a song. A really good song is a meaningful story that can take us somewhere else. Nobody tells a better story inside the construct of a song than Robert Earl Keen.

Happy Birthday, REK. You’re an original. Gig ‘em.