I've never seen Robert Earl Keen play a concert, but I saw him at a live taping of NPR's "Wait Wait ... Don't Tell Me" a few years back and he was the epitome of the laid-back, irreverent entertainer, a perfect counterpoint to host Peter Sagal's adenoidal yuppie smugness.That is to say, it was an odd pairing, but worked out surprisingly well. Keen was quick-witted and hilarious and didn't give Sagal an inch.
After introducing Keen as "the singer/songwriter all the other singer/songwriters want to be," Sagal said that "Rolling Stone once called you The Grateful Dead for frat guys. I'm not quite sure what that means, but I like it. I guess it's songs you can sing along to especially when you're drunk." "Right," Keen said, "if you run out of mushrooms you can drink Keystone."
That's true, though woe to the unlucky soul who has to hang out with frat guys whose bellies are full of cheap suds and psychedelics. Even the literate, easygoing country anthems of Keen probably couldn't keep that situation from turning tragic. So will this show be full of frat bros tripping their flip-flops off? Maaaaaaybe.
A far more likely scenario on a Thursday night in Little Rock: A roomful of Keen diehards, gripping Bud Light longnecks and singing along to every song. The show is 18-and-older.