Robert Earl Keen: Very well, thank you.
TIR: So you’re coming to Nevada on Friday?
REK: Ready to go. Can’t wait.
TIR: What’s your most colorful Nevada story that you have for us?
REK: Well, I spent a day out at Virginia Lake in Reno one time, just sitting there throwing popcorn to all the geese and stuff.. .but I really enjoyed that. I wrote a poem about it but I can’t remember what it was. It was a nice, sort of… I know there’s not a lot of fireworks in that story, but I really enjoyed it and I never forgot it.
TIR: You were quoted recently as saying, “I don’t feel as brave as Lyle Lovett does about stepping out there and saying, ‘This is what I saw and this is how I feel about the situation.’” So my question to you is, Isn’t it the nature of an artist to wrestle with commentary about social things or political things in his or her own ways?
REK: No. My stuff is full of all kinds of commentary. Some of it is really blatant and then some of it is really sneaky, so I always feel like that’s part of the writing process, and it’s certainly part of the process where I get a kick out of putting it out there and hoping somebody will figure it out. It’s like a puzzle.
TIR: Do you ever get pushback for being sort of not a traditional country-western artist?
REK: Well, I don’t think anybody has ever thought of me as a country artist. Then I guess there was a period of time that I really was very dogged in that pursuit to become a country artist, but nobody ever considered me country; consequently, I just am what I am. I mean, at this point, I really cling to that Americana moniker. I consider myself an Americana artist because it represents more what I do, which is a lot more free thinking and a lot more musically expansive.
TIR: What can the fans expect from you at Crystal Bay on Friday?
REK: It’s a fun spot. It’s not like a sit-down place so much. It’s kind of a rowdy place, and we’ll just be yee-ha-ing it up. Think New Year’s Eve in June.
TIR: Awesome. Any final thoughts for us?
REK: Well, I know I always like to say that people should come see us. If they’re fans and they’ve never come to see us live, they should do it. I mean, that’s the number-one statement I get from different fans that say they love my music, listened to it for years and they never came to see us, and they wished they’d done it as soon as they saw us. They wished they’d seen us 10 years ago or 20 years ago.