ELLN April Music Quick Picks

Each month for our ELLN teleconference this year, I am highlighting an album.  This month, I’m highlighting two, for reasons I explain below.  I hope you join us on our Forums or for this afternoon’s call.  If you’re an in-house counsel and not part of the ACC or the Employment & Labor Law Network, you can join ACC and ELLN today and see what we’re all about!  I hope to (virtually) see you soon.

ELLN Chair Doug Hass has long been a music buff (he founded country music site Roughstock.com in 1993) and long done a lot of driving for and to work.  That’s given him lots of time to indulge and explore his music interests To help entertain you on your commutes or at the gym, office, home, or on the go, Doug is offering a year-long series of picks that will showcase some of the best albums you may have never heard, or that deserve another listen. We hope that each monthly choice piques your interest in these albums and artists.  These may be titles that you have never heard of, but our hope is that your interest will be piqued and your musical world enriched!

Lyle Lovett – Live in Texas (Recorded 1995, Released 1999)Robert Earl Keen Jr. – Live Dinner Reunion (Recorded 2015, Released 2016)
  Amazon Music – Apple Music – Spotify — Pandora  Amazon Music – Apple Music – Spotify — Pandora

This month, we continue our series of artists that I think sound best live.  April is a double feature, though, because I could not pick just one of these artists and not the other.  Lyle Lovett and Robert Earl Keen Jr. are not just Texas songwriter and storyteller legends, they are also friends of over 40 years, back to their time at Texas A&M together.  Either of them make great gateways into other Texas storytellers like Guy Clark and Townes Van Zandt, if being quarantined has you interested in exploring further, but let’s start with my favorite live albums from these two.

Lyle Lovett isn’t just the guy who married Julia Roberts, or a quirky Hollywood actor with a side music gig.  He is a spectacularly talented songwriter and musician first, and hard to pigeonhole into a single genre (sort of like his home state).  Both Pontiac (1987) and Road to Ensenada (1996) are even better entries in his discography, in my opinion, but Live in Texas shows you his full range: from country to jazz to R&B, and gives you the flavor of how entertaining Lyle’s live shows are.  If you listen to one track here, make it the incomparable Francine Reed belting out “Wild Women Don’t Get the Blues” backed by Lyle and his Large Band.  Then, make sure you stop on “That’s Right (You’re Not From Texas),” “If I Had a Boat,” and “She’s No Lady.”  The live show really does sound that clean and seamless.

Lovett’s buddy, Robert Earl Keen Jr., is a legend in his own right.  Keen is a little more straight Texas country and bluegrass than Lovett, but every bit his equal as a musician, storyteller, and songwriter.  His first live record, 1988’s The Live Album, has the definitive version of the Lovett-cowritten hit “The Front Porch Song” with a hilarious aside in the middle about the origins of the song. In 1996, Keen released his most famous album, No. 2 Live Dinner, renowned for such signature songs as “Gringo Honeymoon” and “Amarillo Highway.”  Either of those options would be good places to start, too, but since I have to pick just one from his catalog, I will recommend Live Dinner Reunion.  For the 20th anniversary of No. 2 Live Dinner, Keen returned to Texas honky tonk John T. Floore Country Store in Helotes, Texas in 2016.  Sequels rarely recapture the magic of the original, but this one is an exception.  Live Dinner Reunion recaps the first 12 years of Keen’s hits from No. 2 Live Dinner and adds some more recent hits.  Keen also welcomes Lovett and Texas country legends Joe Ely, Bruce Robison, and Cody Canada to join him in a tight, enthusiastic show with exceptional musicianship.  Like Lovett’s selection this month, you get a sense from this album of the rollicking fun that a Robert Earl Keen show is.

I hope you enjoy (or enjoy rediscovering) both of these picks!

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