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A Texas Music Twin Bill: Townes Van Zandt and Robert Earl Keen, Jr.

Townes Van Zandt and Robert Earl Keen, Jr.
Photos courtesy JAMinc

A lot of the credit for this last show, this Texas Twin Bill, goes to one of Page’s cohorts Ames Arnold, who was often tasked with contacting touring artists and cajoling them into a recording studio, schooling them on the whole Swamp scene, and having them buy into it - no small task. Ames coaxed Robert Earl Keen, Jr. and Townes Van Zandt into Alpha Audio’s main 3rd floor studio on June 18, 1991, the day after a big night at Kahootz - back then a new music club at Pine and West Cary - which also featured the now departed Guy Clark. They sat down with Page separately and we share Robert’s session first - a true founding father of what Page dubbed purebred American mongrel music that’s become today’s Americana. He talks about his roots, his time with Lyle Lovett as a fellow Texas Aggie, and how some of his classic tunes came to be, including The Road Goes On Forever.

Many of us became aware of the gritty poetry of Townes Van Zandt when we wanted to know who wrote that cinematic tune Pancho and Lefty covered by Emmylou Harris back in 1976. In the crowded field of noteworthy Lone Star songwriters, Townes increasingly garners the most reverence. The legend and lore he left behind on his passing in 1997 continue to grow as we get this revealing glimpse of the songwriter as a wise and observant human being, with a completely delightful and uncontrived sense of humor. It’s an honor for us to share these unforgettable moments from 30 years ago, as we step through the screen door one more time to find Robert Earl Keen and Townes Van Zandt in Page’s Kitchen.