The road doesn't go on forever: Robert Earl Keen announces he'll retire from touring soon
Renowned Central Texas singer-songwriter Robert Earl Keen announced Friday that he plans to stop touring in September, with final shows on Labor Day weekend at Floore's Country store in Helotes near San Antonio.
Keen, 66, was born in Houston and attended Texas A&M University in the 1970s before moving to Austin and issuing his debut album "No Kinda Dancer" in 1984. He's released more than a dozen albums since then, most recently a 2015 bluegrass record and a 2016 live set on prominent Nashville label Dualtone.
His songs have been recorded by dozens of artists, including his former A&M classmate Lyle Lovett, the late Nanci Griffith, Kelly Willis & Bruce Robison, Sara & Sean Watkins, Johnny Rodriguez, and the country supergroup the Highwaymen (featuring Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, Kris Kristofferson and Johnny Cash).
"It’s with a mysterious concoction of joy and sadness that I want to tell you as of September 4, 2022, I will no longer tour and perform publicly," Keen announced. "As much as I love what I do, it’s more important that I do it well or not at all. I’m not sick or experiencing any existential crisis. I feel that making a decision and quitting the road while I still love it is the way I want to leave it."
Keen added that he will continue to write songs and produce his Americana Podcast. He has no Austin concerts currently booked, but he is scheduled to appear at the Paramount Theater on Feb. 12 as part of this year's Texas Heritage Songwriters Association Hall of Fame awards show, which will induct Lefty Frizzell, Nanci Griffith, Lightnin' Hopkins and Mark James.
Keen concluded his statement by quoting the chorus of perhaps his best-known song: "Thank you for all the wonderful shows throughout the years and, although it might not be apparent here, I promise, The Road Goes on Forever and the Party Never Ends."