Robert Earl Keen and Adam Hood light up NoDa

The NoDa district in Charlotte was the place to be on Thursday night.

The opportunities to support live music have grown significantly over the past few years throughout North Carolina but the NoDa (North Davidson) neighborhood in Charlotte has long been a hot spot for live entertainment. Housing multiple restaurants hosting a live band every now and again to arguably the best listening room in the state, The Evening Muse and Neighborhood Theatre – committed to bringing in countless national touring acts and locals each year – this area has become quite the destination.

Thursday proved to be such a night as the stars aligned for two of the best in the business – one a long-time stalwart in his music and troubadour stemming from Texas and another storyteller in his own right with more of a blues feel, by way of Alabama. Robert Earl Keen has been paving the way for decades, traveling around the country and is no stranger to the North Carolina market – booking four dates on this trip alone while Adam Hood hadn’t toured through in quite some time but was greeted with two shows at near capacity.

Hood began on Wednesday evening out in Surf City on the coast, before bringing The Sea, The Sea to perform ahead of him in Charlotte at The Evening Muse. Having only witnessed Hood play solo acoustic shows previously, his backing band and shift to an electric guitar brought an entirely different level of depth and sound to his songs. While the lyrics continue to tell the tales, it was an interesting change of pace and something that was well received by those in attendance.

Making his way through a few songs off his latest album, ‘Somewhere In Between’, released last October and some aged favorites, Hood’s soulful mix and laid back tone bring an easy listening feeling to even the most complex of subjects in his songs.

Across the street at Neighborhood Theatre, Darrin Bradbury earned a humorous introduction and jokingly lifted the spirits of an enthusiastic crowd. Once Robert Earl Keen walked on stage it was guaranteed to be a memorable evening listening to one of the greatest perform his own comedic interpretations and storied songs through a set list packed with many recognizable hits and a new song or two.

Keen visits quite frequently at different times of the year and never fails to entertain. On the second of four different dates this time around, REK and his band’s professionalism were on full display behind many years experience and too many live shows from which to draw inspiration to count. Knowing when to lead and then letting the audience take over singing the chorus and even verses back to him at times, watching one of his events is like watching any master of their craft. Appearing to effortlessly convey a two hour set that somehow manages to leave fans only wanting more.

Two great shows on one epic night happening just a few steps apart from one another.

Robert Earl Keen set for multiple dates across NC

The legendary Robert Earl Keen has four upcoming dates throughout North Carolina.

Texas native and song-writing legend, Robert Earl Keen, is making multiple stops in North Carolina this week, beginning on Wednesday. Known for a classic mix of story-portrait songs and other rocking hits, Keen bounces between folk, country, rock and bluegrass – unable and unwilling to be limited by a specific genre or placed into a box.

Three decades removed from his debut album and after years of touring both across the United States and internationally, Keen remains hard at work – always crafting his next musical endeavor and entertaining fans with energetic live performances and the tales behind many of his greatest songs.

A member of the Texas Heritage Songwriters Hall of Fame, Keen has an extended portfolio of songs from which to choose, so no matter if you’re attending one or all of these upcoming shows – it’s a safe bet you will not leave disappointed.

4/10 – Wednesday at Lincoln Theatre (Raleigh) – TIX AVAILABLE HERE

4/11 – Thursday at Neighborhood Theatre (Charlotte) – TIX AVAILABLE HERE

4/12 – Friday at The Ramkat (Winston-Salem) – TIX AVAILABLE HERE

4/15 – Monday at The Orange Peel (Asheville) – TIX AVAILABLE HERE

MerleFest 2018: Robert Earl Keen

As MerleFest 2018 approaches, a highlight from one of the 100+ performing acts will be featured daily…

“The road goes on forever…”

It’s not always easy to sum up a career — let alone a life’s ambition — so succinctly, but those five words from Robert Earl Keen’s calling-card anthem just about do it. You can complete the lyric with the next five words — the ones routinely shouted back at Keen by thousands of fans a night (“and the party never ends!”) — just to punctuate the point with a flourish, but it’s the part about the journey that gets right to the heart of what makes Keen tick. Some people take up a life of playing music with the goal of someday reaching a destination of fame and fortune; but from the get-go, Keen just wanted to write and sing his own songs, and to keep writing and singing them for as long as possible.

“I always thought that I wanted to play music, and I always knew that you had to get some recognition in order to continue to play music,” Keen says. “But I never thought of it in terms of getting to be a big star. I thought of it in terms of having a really, really good career and writing some good songs, and getting onstage and having a really good time.”

Now three-decades on from the release of his debut album — with well over a dozen other records to his name, thousands of shows under his belt and still no end in sight to the road ahead — Keen remains as committed to and inspired by his muse as ever. And as for accruing recognition, well, he’s done alright on that front, too; from his humble beginnings on the Texas folk scene, he’s blazed a peer, critic, and fan-lauded trail that’s earned him living-legend (not to mention pioneer) status in the Americana music world. And though the Houston native has never worn his Texas heart on his sleeve, he’s long been regarded as one of the Lone Star State’s finest (not to mention top-drawing) true singer-songwriters.

He was still a relative unknown in 1989 when his second studio album, West Textures, was released — especially on the triple bill he shared at the time touring with legends Townes Van Zandt and Guy Clark — but once fellow Texas icon Joe Ely recorded both “The Road Goes on Forever” and “Whenever Kindness Fails” on his 1993 album, Love and Danger, the secret was out on Keen’s credentials as a songwriter’s songwriter. By the end of the decade, Keen was a veritable household name in Texas, headlining a millennial New Year’s Eve celebration in Austin that drew an estimated 200,000 people. A dozen years later, he was inducted into the Texas Heritage Songwriters Hall of Fame along with the late, great Van Zandt and his old college buddy, Lyle Lovett.

Bio provided courtesy of

You will not want to miss Robert Earl Keen on Thursday (April 26) during MerleFest this year.

Thursday, 7:15pm-8:15am (Watson Stage)

View the full MerleFest schedule and stage lineup here.