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'Weary traveler': The road won't go on forever for Robert Earl Keen ... but the party never ends

"I feel that making a decision and quitting the road while I still love it, is the way I want to leave it," Keen said when announcing his retirement from touring.
Credit: Erika Goldring
Robert Earl Keen performs onstage during the 2018 Americana Music Honors and Awards at Ryman Auditorium on September 12, 2018 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Erika Goldring/Getty Images for Americana Music Association)

HOUSTON — Robert Earl Keen fans might be crying in their beers tonight with news that he will soon stop touring and performing.

Keen, who turned 66 on Jan. 11, made the announcement Friday in a heartfelt post on his website.

"It’s with a mysterious concoction of joy and sadness that I want to tell you as of September 4th, 2022, I will no longer tour and perform publicly." 

Keen said there will be plenty of chances to see him in concert before then, and the tour schedule will include stops in Texas and, hopefully, his hometown of Houston.  

The Sharpstown High graduate and proud Aggie first honed his skills when he taught himself to play the guitar at Texas A&M, where he roomed with fellow Houston native Lyle Lovett. 

In a full-circle moment, Keen and Lovett came home in 2019 to open for George Strait at RodeoHouston. They performed for a record crowd of more than 80,000, but Keen perfected his craft at Texas bars and is probably more at home in smaller venues.

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Die-hard fans of all ages have partied at Keen's concerts through the years while singing along to his long list of hits. But it's his poetic ballads that best showcase his talent as a songwriter.

"From the get-go, Keen wanted to write and sing his own songs, and to keep writing and singing them for as long as possible," his website says.

"I always wanted to play music, and I always knew that you had to get some recognition in order to continue to play music. But I never thought in terms of getting to be a big star. I thought in terms of having a really, really good career writing good songs, and getting onstage to share a really good time."

Thankfully, Keen said he plans to keep writing songs and will continue interviewing celebrities and others for his Americana Podcast. 

"I’m a strong believer in clarity and truth. As much as I love what I do, it’s more important that I do it well or not at all. I’m not sick or experiencing any existential crisis," Keen assured his fans. "I feel that making a decision and quitting the road while I still love it, is the way I want to leave it."

He said their last two or three shows will be at Flores Country Store in Helotes, Texas and they'll throw a fan-appreciation party on Labor Day, September 5.

"Thank you for all the wonderful shows throughout the years and, although  it might not be apparent here, I promise, The Road Goes on Forever and the Party Never Ends."

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