Robert Earl Keen
Live Dinner Reunion (Dualtone)
Reviewed by Doug Freeman, Fri., Dec. 23, 2016
Robert Earl Keen's live albums capture the iconic Texas songwriter at his most real, 1996's No. 2 Live Dinner still his bestseller. In celebration of its 20th anniversary, Keen returned to Floore's Country Store in Helotes to remake the magic. Aided by an all-star guest cast and 5,000 fans, Live Dinner Reunion surpasses the original. The double platter cruises through REK's career, covering classics like "Gringo Honeymoon," "Amarillo Highway," and "Corpus Christi Bay," but it's the slew of duets that makes the album sing. Lyle Lovett rejuvenates the two songmen's salad days for perhaps the seminal recording of "This Old Porch," and Cory Morrow's roughened twang perfectly matches Keen's own distinct vocals on "I'll Go on Downtown." Original band members Mark Patterson and Bryan Duckworth join for a slapping "Ding Dong Daddy From Dumas," and Bruce Robison saves his best steps for "No Kinda Dancer." Disc two offers Reckless Kelly's Cody Braun whipping "Wild Wind" and Cody Canada ripping guitar on "Lonesome Wind," but Joe Ely both steals the show and closes it on "The Road Goes on Forever." Ultimately, Robert Earl Keen's sheer enthusiasm showcases a Texas legend in the thrall of putting together his own personally perfect show.