He’s been coming around these parts and packing them in all over town a long time, but Texas favorite son Robert Earl Keen is leaving nothing to chance.
“This past fall we were going about our business promoting the upcoming Christmas shows,” says Keen, composer of one of the all-time great non-religious Christmas songs, “Merry Christmas From The Family.”
“I'm the Jimmy Buffet of Christmas in the Lone Star State, and we were pushing the venues to maximize their promotional dollars on our show,” he says. “The Majestic Theatre in San Antonio asked us to do a video to post on their website. We made the first video with a local tech guy. He wasn't impressed with our effort, but the piece looked good and everyone was happy.”
And it was “an easy sell,” continues Keen, who has since posted similar concert promo clips on YouTube.
“I don't know how well the pieces worked in particular--my marketing team is on probation and may have fled the country!--but our shows were sold to the walls,” he says. “And we did some big places.”
All music venues now want YouTube-ready promotional videos, Keen notes.
“Unbelievable! These camera-captured events are used on websites, on promotional flat screens, and passed around social media sites,” he reports. “Who would’ve thunk it? It seems like only yesterday I was faxing. Oh well, get going or get left.”
So Keen decided to set up a studio in his office in Texas Hill Country.
“I dug a comfy chair out of the neighbor's dumpster and borrowed a flip camera from a child,” he says. “I removed the cardboard cutout of Dale Evans from the corner of my cubicle, and a set was born. My director of management became the writer/director and I was the producer and talent. We shared lighting duties and catering was provided by Brown's Hamburgers. We yelled ‘Action!’ and ‘Cut!,’ had a wrap party and an awards banquet. No one cried and no lawyers were present.”
Keen and his crack Texas country band are getting ready to head east—and north.
“So when we talked about this swing up the East Coast, we did some more ‘be my own talking head’ performances,” he says. “Mostly for places that cotton to 21st Century cultural and technological norms. All totally on the fly. You know, showbiz at it's best.”
Sure enough, Keen has posted a quick clip on YouTube promoting his Irving Plaza show next week (Jan. 25)--promising to bring up some "Texas heat" to wintry New York City.
“I am my own talking head!” he proudly proclaims. “I'll be coming soon to a theater website near you!”
Subscribe to my examiner.com pages and follow me on Twitter @JimBessman!