Robert Earl Keen Goes Back to His Roots for ‘Footprints in the Snow’ Video [Premiere]
Robert Earl Keen is one of the most-respected singer-songwriters in country and Red Dirt music, and he's giving Taste of Country readers the first look at his latest video for "Footprints in the Snow."
The song comes from Keen's new album, Happy Prisoner, which he released via Dualtone in February. The new project sees the Texas-based artist take his music in an unexpected new direction, offering up his takes on classic bluegrass tunes.
“I've had a lifelong love of bluegrass,” says Keen. “I've always had an affinity for music that I felt like you'd listen to in your living room. Music that felt real. My mom liked the old hillbilly music, and as a kid, I used to fall asleep listening to an eight-track tape of Jimmie Rodgers' greatest hits. When I was in ninth grade, one of my first dates was taking a girl to a bluegrass festival. That sounds crazy for someone in Texas. But I was fascinated with that music, even though it wasn't part of the Gulf Coast at all."
In fact, Keen had a bluegrass band called the Front Porch Boys in college. He went to fiddle contests and "learned a jillion fiddle and old-timey songs. My whole education in music started with bluegrass," he states.
“And that's partly where the album title comes from,” Keen adds. “I've been listening to it forever, I love it, and so I feel like I'm something of a happy prisoner of bluegrass."
Keen is best known as a singer-songwriter, but his job on Happy Prisoner is to interpret some of the greatest bluegrass material of all time, including his takes on Flatt & Scruggs, the Carter Family and Jimmie Rodgers. "Footprints in the Snow" is a nod to the Father of Bluegrass, Bill Monroe.
He feels just as strongly about the material as if he had written it himself.
“I have the same feeling as I do with my own songs, and there's the same kind of visualization as when I'm singing them," Keen says. "I see a whole movie in my head, and it's always the same. It doesn't matter whose song it is. If I can get that connection with a song, be it a bluegrass song or a rock song, it's the same to me. I sing to that picture in my head, and that makes it feel like it's mine."
Keen is scheduled to perform at Merlefest in Wilkesboro, N.C. on Sunday (April 26), and has booked a full schedule of dates through the end of July, with scattered shows in August and September. See a complete list of dates below.
Robert Earl Keen 2015 Tour Dates:
4/24 — Germantown, Tenn. @ Germantown PAC
4/26 — Wilkesboro, N.C. @ MerleFest
5/2 — New Braunfels, Texas @ Gruene Hall
5/7 — 5/9 - Key West, Fla. @ Key West Songwriter's Festival
5/20 — Greenville, S.Cc @ The Peace Center for the Performing Arts
5/21 — Chattanooga, Tenn. @ Track 29
5/22 — Evans, Ga. @ Evans Towne Center Park
5/23 — Little Rock, Ark. @ Riverfest
6/5 — Fort Worth, Texas @ Billy Bob's Texas
6/6 — Graham, Texas @ Graham Historic Drive-In Theater
6/16 — Salt Lake City, Utah @ Red Butte Garden
6/18 — Telluride, Colo. @ Telluride Bluegrass Festival
6/19 — Cottonwood, Ariz. @ Tilted Earth Music Festival
7/4 — Kerrville, Texas @ Kerrville's Fourth on the River
7/10 — Mount Solon, Va. @ Red Wing Roots Music Festival
7/23 — Nashville, Tenn. @ The Ryman Auditorium
7/24 — St. Louis, Mo. @ The Ready Room
7/25 — Lawrence Kan. @ Granada Theatre
7/28 — Morrison, Colo. @ Red Rocks Amphitheatre
7/29 — Fruita, Colo. @ James M. Robb State Park
7/30 — Salt Lake City, Utah @ The State Room
7/31 — Missoula, Mon. @ Top Hat Lounge
8/1 — Big Sky, Mon. @ Meadow Village Pavilion
9/12 — Helotes, Texas @ Floore's Country Store