MUSIC BOX: The Rendezvous Fest takeover

By on March 18, 2015
Sneaky Pete & The Secret Weapons

Sneaky Pete & The Secret Weapons

Jackson Hole, Wyoming – When the man behind the crime-spree song “The Road Goes on Forever (and the Party Never Ends)” tells you that he’s “had some killer times in Jackson” and “had the worst hangover of [his] life there thanks to [his] good friend Kip Attaway and that madman Don Wackerman,” there’s reason to believe that our small community holds some late night memories for him. Building on legendary, Texas singer-songwriter Robert Earl Keen is a hard-edged story man, capable of engulfing you in the intricacies of a moment, a social situation, a feeling — and he does it within the context of a five-minute tune.

For much of his eighteen-album career, beginning with No Kinda Dancer (Sugar Hill, 1984), Keen has been able to balance this sensitive storytelling (“Corpus Christi Bay”) with rowdy barroom sing-a-longs (“That Buckin’ Song”) — all the while contributing to the genre that would emerge as alt-country around 1998. His introduction into the Texas Heritage Songwriters’ Hall of Fame puts him alongside his longtime college buddy Lyle Lovett and the heralded Townes Van Zandt. Keep an eye on his fans during his shows — they’re completely committed to his lyrics and the ride that ensues.

Robert Earl Keen Band

Robert Earl Keen Band

“The audience is like the Twelfth Man in Aggie land,” commented Keen on the importance of crowd rapport. The analogy is to his alma mater Texas A&M’s Twelfth Man tradition that stems from a story in which a plainclothes student was called from the stands, suited up and ready in case the underdog team needed him throughout the remainder of a 1922 football game victory.

“We could do it without [a dedicated audience], but it‘s no fun and everybody loses,” he said. “Every night there are throngs of fans that want to sing along, hear their favorite song, take a selfie with me. Always.”

Lukas Nelson & The Promise of the Real

Lukas Nelson & The Promise of the Real

Keen is one of several musicians headlining slots during Rendezvous Fest this weekend, which kicks off at 3 p.m., Thursday, with Americana, roots rock quartet Screen Door Porch on the Tram Stage [the author of this column is a member of the band. — Eds.]. It concludes Sunday at the same location with eight-piece roots reggae outfit Chanman Roots Band opening for ripping blues rock guitarist Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real at 3 p.m. In between those shows is a daily lineup of free music in Teton Village and in town.

Keen and his five-piece band will play on the Town Square Stage at 5 p.m., Friday, along with guest openers Jason Spooner Band, who have a R&B-groovy, singer-songwriter-esque, soulful vibe. Teenage rockabilly phenom, Wyatt Lowe & The Mayhem Kings, open the evening. Lowe is poised to release his debut LP, Songs From a Bottomless Well, next month.

Next up is groovin’, funkin’, dance-folk sextet Sneaky Pete and the Secret Weapons, owning the Tram Stage at 3 p.m., Saturday, in advance of the main show. The concert, dubbed Rendezvous at the Mountain, will feature what is becoming the staple headliner: hip-hop/pop/rock band Michael Franti & Spearhead. The legendary Mix Master Mike will follow. Rendezvous at the Mountain begins at 5:30 p.m. in the Teton Village parking lot.

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Mix Master Mike

Turntablist Mix Master Mike’s association with The Beastie Boys plays out in an interesting timeline of top-notch beat makers, though he originally made a name for himself as a three-time DMC World DJ Champion. Mike worked with the B-Boys on Hello Nasty (1998), To The 5 Boroughs (2004) and Hot Sauce Committee Part Two (2011). From the studio to world tours, Mix Master Mike was effectively the Beastie Boys’ resident DJ, having replaced DJ Hurricane, who was preceded by Doctor Dré (not to be confused with Dr. Dre) and Rick Rubin, also known as DJ Double R.

Screen Door Porch

Screen Door Porch

Enjoy the Teton kick-off to spring, and utilize the START Bus and taxicabs should you decide to indulge!

All concerts are free. “Private Reserve” tickets, starting at $75, are available to guests who prefer access to a premier viewing area adjacent to the stage as well as complimentary food and beverages. Those tickets are available online at JacksonHole.com. 

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About Aaron Davis

Aaron Davis is a decade-long writer of Music Box, a singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, member of Screen Door Porch and Boondocks, founder/host of Songwriter’s Alley, and co-founder of The WYOmericana Caravan.

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