Keen returns to help Ski Team |

Keen returns to help Ski Team

Robert Earl Keen will appear at Harry O s in a benefit concert for the Park City Ski Team on Jan. 11. Photo courtesy of Insight Management.

Last year, the Park City Ski Team had a novel idea. Why not create a fundraiser an event that could attract people from across the community, whether or not they could afford a ticket to a $100 silent auction.

So they booked a concert and filled Harry O’s with nearly a thousand fans. That night, the Ski Team’s opener was the Motherlode Canyon Band; the headliner was Texan Robert Earl Keen, and the show was so successful for all involved that they’re going to do it again, this Wednesday, Jan. 11 at Harry O’s.

"I feel like I have a pretty good following there and I’m a fan of the Ski Team," said Keen.

He said that after playing the fundraiser for the group in January 2005, he offered to return for another event, and this year, he happened to be planning a road swing through the Rocky Mountains in January.

"It just turned out that it’s good timing and a good event," Keen concluded.

So next Wednesday, he’ll return to town with his unique brand roots-country rock ‘n’ roll. Featuring a heavy dose of West Texas spirit and narratives that carry listeners through songs like stories, Keen’s music entertains.

Since he last played Park City, the singer and songwriter has been busy. He and his band released a new album, "What I Really Mean," and did a little touring.

"We had a great year, played a lot of really good gigs and put out a new record," said Keen.

"What I Really Mean" earned its share of critical acclaim and Keen found himself with a unique opportunity.

That came this past month, when he had the chance to talk to International Space Station Commander Bill McArthur, who is currently in orbit above the Earth.

"It just turned out that he was a fan and the flight surgeon from the station found a way to contact me," said Keen.

He said he made a trip down to the NASA facility in Houston to talk to McArthur over the radio, giving him a boost to help make the space mission a bit more bearable. Keen talked about what the astronauts have to do to simply maintain their day-to-day existence and noted that he was glad to be able to provide a small distraction.

"I was really happy to be involved in that," he said. "There are those things that just happen out of the blue that are just fantastic, and that was one of the best ones."

Keen said this year’s Park City concert will differ a bit from last year’s. The show, he said, will include some new songs.

"We have this new album that came out on May the tenth," he said.

Last year, he and his band recorded the CD about a month before coming to Park City, so, according to Keen, the band was just beginning to learn how some of them worked on stage.

"All the songs need a little road testing," said Keen.

So now, he noted, the sets include a few more songs from "What I Really Mean."

"It’s certainly a bigger part of the show now," Keen said.

But at the same time, Keen noted that he still plays the same kind of shows. He organizes them, he said, like radio station would. Some of the songs are in heavy rotation while others are only occasionally pulled from the vaults and played.

And Harry O’s, he said, was perfect for his style of play.

"I like the room and what seems to go on there is pretty much ideal for us," he said.

The venue has an excellent sound system, he noted, and plenty of room to dance and have a good time.

"Harry O’s is conducive to our kind of show," he said.

He also promised a full, rocking event for the audience.

"It’s a fundraiser-benefit and the proceeds go to the ski team and I think sometimes with events like that, people feel like they might only get half a show," he said. "This is a full show It’s all about Robert Earl Keen and his band."

Tickets for Robert Earl Keen’s Harry O’s concert to benefit the Park City Ski Team are $25 in advance and $30 at the door. Special VIP passes are available for $100; they include a signed CD, a reception with Keen and special VIP seating. The concert is for those age 21 and older only. For more information, or to purchase tickets, call 649-8749.

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