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The Jones Assembly crowd was 'feelin' good again' after Robert Earl Keen Christmas show

Robert Earl Keen, ShinyRibs and the Shiny Soul Sisters perform Thursday night at The Jones Assembly in Oklahoma City. [PHOTO BY LINDA LYNN/THE OKLAHOMAN]
Robert Earl Keen, ShinyRibs and the Shiny Soul Sisters perform Thursday night at The Jones Assembly in Oklahoma City. [PHOTO BY LINDA LYNN/THE OKLAHOMAN]

Frankly, I can't remember when I have had more fun at a concert.

I admit I'm biased. I have loved Robert Earl Keen's music for three-plus decades and I could have been happy with the Texas troubadour sitting in a chair and strumming "Five Pound Bass" by himself on stage.

But not only did Keen show up at The Jones Assembly in Oklahoma City on Thursday night with his excellent band but so did George Harrison, David Bowie, Elton John and other celebrity guests. Actually, they were members of Keen's band impersonating the rock stars, but it made Keen's Christmas concert reminiscent of the old Dean Martin variety show on television. And those were a lot of fun.

The name of Keen's eighth-annual holiday tour was "Countdown to Christmas: Lunar Tunes & Looney Times," and it was a Christmas show with very little Christmas music, but plenty of entertainment.

The flamboyant Shinyribs, along with the Shiny Soul Sisters and their colorful brand of country-soul and swamp-funk music, opened the night with a bang and the party was on. Keen followed immediately and began playing what most of us came to hear, the Keen standards. He opened with "Feelin' Good Again" and immediately followed with "Gringo Honeymoon."

But then came the first clue this night would not be just a collection of Keen's best, as a George Harrison look-a-like stepped up to perform "Here Comes the Sun." It would be like that throughout the evening. Keen would have the fans rocking with an REK classic then out of the blue there would come a blast from the past from a costumed band member.

Keen belted out "Amarillo Highway" and "Corpus Christi Bay" back-to-back and had the crowd singing along. "Elton John" then took the stage and began singing "Rocket Man," and my wife nudged me and said, "I know this music."

She doesn't know the words to "The Road Goes On Forever" by heart, but she does know "Rocket Man." So did many others in the crowd. It was an eclectic evening of music.

Keen ended his set with a souped-up version of "The Road Goes On Forever" before Shinyribs and the Shiny Soul Sisters, donned in Flower Power attire, reappeared for "The Age of Aquarius" finale.

Of course, that really wasn't the finale. Even though it was the day after Christmas, everyone came to hear "Merry Christmas From The Family." Only fitting it would be the encore.

When Keen reached the verse about Fran and Rita plugging in the motor home and blowing out the Christmas lights, the stage went dark at The Jones Assembly to the delight of the crowd. The lights came back on as Keen finished the verse about how Cousin David knew just what went wrong and threw the breaker to turn the lights back on.

It was a nice touch, as was the appearance of fake snow (bubbles) near the end of the song. Doubtful if they actually came from a Stop 'N Go.

That wasn't the end, however. The crowd was sent home after a rousing version of "Feliz Navidad," and there was no doubt that they really were feelin' good again. I know I was.

Ed Godfrey

Ed Godfrey was born in Muskogee and raised in Stigler. He has worked at The Oklahoman for 25 years. During that time, he has worked a myriad of beats for The Oklahoman including both the federal and county courthouse in Oklahoma City for more... Read more ›