Summerfest to host Robert Earl Keen concert

The free concert will begin at 7 p.m. Wednesday on Ninth Street.

By Nassim Benchaabane | Sept. 9, 2011

Tags: Music

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Ninth Street in downtown Columbia isn’t usually packed with people at night, dancing, drinking and eating while watching a free outdoor concert. On Wednesday night, however, it will be.

The warm night air will be filled with catchy robust vocals, strong soulful guitar chords, the twang of guitar licks and a healthy backbeat, all provided by Robert Earl Keen. For free.

The veteran Texan country singer will be performing for free as a part of The Blue Note’s Summerfest concert series. Summerfest is a series of free outdoor concerts held once each month from May to September.

Keen is not your typical country star.

“He’s not radio country by any means,” says Sean Allmeyer, marketing manager for the Blue Note. “He’s not Taylor Swift.”

Keen, who has been performing since the early ’80s, has a large cult following. He’s performed with other legends such as Willie Nelson, Johnny Cash and George Strait. His latest album, "Ready for Confetti," was released Aug. 29. Keen took a different approach to the album, choosing to write the music while on the road instead of at home in his cabin.

According to Keen’s website, "With 'Ready for Confetti,' Robert proves once again that he is one of our generation’s greatest singer/songwriters. It takes you on a ride that keeps you hoping that the road truly does go on forever.”

Keen has been on the road with the same band for nearly two decades. The last time he performed in Columbia was in 2009. Keen has established himself as one of the most entertaining performers on the road.

That’s just the right kind of show needed to get a crowd dancing at Summerfest. Allmeyer says The Blue Note expects about 3,000 people to attend Keen’s upcoming Summerfest show.

“The Summerfest series is fairly unique, not just for us, but downtown Columbia as a whole,” Allmeyer says. “We block the street for an entire day to set up the stage and put on a really cool show. It’s a chance for people to come see some bands they might not have heard of and have a really good time.”

Allmeyer said that Summerfest brings in nationally touring, well-known and respected musicians. Other bands that have performed as a part of the Summerfest series include Little Feat, Wilco, The Wallflowers, Chuck Berry and Cross Canadian Ragweed. The series began in 2004.

The concert will open at 6 p.m. Wednesday, and the music will begin at 7 p.m.

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