It was about 10 years ago that Robert Earl Keen went on a tour sponsored by Shiner Bock. Driving behind him along the nation's highways was a truck full of the brew, which, per booking contracts, was to be sold by the tour's venues at the promo price of just $2 per bottle. Needless to say, during "The Road Goes on Forever" at the end of his show at the Mystic Theatre, the crowd was completely sloshed on cheap Texas beer.
Times have changed for the regional, and when Keen headlines EarleFest on Sept. 28, fans can dig his Texas twang without guzzling his Texas brew. Lagunitas is among a local food-and-drink lineup that includes Fork Catering, Rodney Strong, the BBQ Spot and more, and Hopmonk Tavern sponsors a side stage with all-local acts.
Of course, the music's the draw, and the main stage includes fellow Texan Ray Wylie Hubbard (the deft tunesmith behind Jerry Jeff Walker's "Up Against the Wall, Redneck Mother"), jaw-dropping guitar wizard Sonny Landreth with dobro phenomenon Cindy Cashdollar, and recent NorBay Awards winners Frankie Boots & the County Line.
As for Robert Earl Keen, he might not serenade a crowd as drunk as they were that night 10 years ago, but the characters in his songs—"Merry Christmas from the Family," "Corpus Christi Bay," "Gringo Honeymoon"—never stopped throwin' 'em back.
Revel in the freedom of cold beer, loud tunes and an open field at EarleFest on Saturday, Sept. 28, at the Earle Baum Center for the Blind. 4539 Occidental Road, Santa Rosa. 11:30am–6pm. $30 advance, $35 door. 707.523.3222.—Gabe Meline