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Artist Bios Written for Old Settler's Music Festival Program

Texas singer-songwriter Robert Earl Keen is known for songs that achieve the balance of barroom angst and romantic longing. His stories illuminate human weaknesses we all have, and melodies we fondly remember. We can see ourselves in his heroes, as they convince us that telling someone else’s truth is just as honest as telling your own. Fresh off the heels of his release of “Happy Prisoner,” Keen’s current tour honors the bluegrass roots that helped him become the songwriter he is. The album is filled with material originally recorded by bluegrass icons Bill Monroe and Hot Rize, and features guest appearances by Lyle Lovett, Natalie Maines, Peter Rowan, and Sara Watkins. Playing the bluegrass songs that spurred him to write the songs we think of him for, Robert Earl Keen keeps proving roads really do go on forever. And it’s nice being along for the ride. (2015)
Now in their fourth decade together, four-time Grammy Winners Los Lobos’ latest recording, “Gates of Gold,” confirms they have endured because they rely on heart and talent equally. Winners of a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Americana Music Association in 2015, their live shows are a thrill ride through history. Multi-instrumentalist David Hidalgo and lead guitarist Cesar Rosas roar through back catalog tunes like “Más y Más” and the Grateful Dead’s “Bertha.” A soulful, versatile rock band, Los Lobos redefines American roots music with rock, cumbia, blues and Tex-Mex. (2017)
Bob Schneider has always bucked the conventions of the typical singer-songwriter. Quirky and prolific, Schneider entertains himself as much as he entertains his audiences, amplifying the traditional singer-songwriter blueprint with elements of funk, country, rock and reggae. His recent recording, “The King Kong Suite,” was released in three successive volumes, each one an EP of five songs that share similar moods. Schneider’s visual artwork adorns the collections. All three EP’s showcase how much his sensitivity is connected to his creativity. He is a thinking man’s optimist on the jaunty, rhythmic “The Stars Over Your House.” The music industry’s most deliberate and creative chameleon, Bob Schneider always keeps his audiences listening, singing and dancing along. (2016)
Growing up in Beaumont, TX, Kevin Russell found a guitar, a sewing machine, a billy club, and a box of comic books under his father’s bed. And while he chose the guitar, there’s probably evidence of all four in his music. Shinyribs is the musical evolution of the Gourds co-founder. The band’s country-soul-swampy-flip-your-hair-funk performances often feature the loveable chaos of a full-venue conga line. Cover songs showcase everything from Meghan Trainor’s “All About That Bass” to David Bowie’s “Golden Years.” The newly-released CD “I Got Your Medicine” includes the rockin’ “Trouble, Trouble” and uke and horn loaded “Don’t Leave It a Lie,” both of which prove the freedom with which Russell moves, sings and writes is evocative of everyone from Dr. Seuss to Al Green to Chuck Berry. (2017)
One of the most critically acclaimed and commercially successful acts of the 90’s, The Mavericks possess such artistic synergy onstage they make combining tender melodies and elaborate, polyrhythmic groove look easy. The Grammy winners pushed the limits of the country world with hits like “Dance the Night Away” and “Crying Shame.” Now some 20 years later with the release of their latest studio album “Mono,” they prove their sound endures. The Mavericks are truly a force of effervescent, feel-good music that blurs genres and fills dance floors. Armed with raucous retro-Latin flair, they guarantee a live show of infectious energy and melodies you’ll hum all the way home. (2015)
Hayes Carll’s new album “Lovers and Leavers” traces relationships with people who heard the call of music. While he never declares which one he is, lover or leaver, Carll’s songs recognize the bittersweet glory of the mundane. Folk and gritty country melodies abound. The clean, sparse production of “The Love That We Need” allows the listener to insert his own story as the interplay of guitar and piano mimic personal experience. Confessional without being self-indulgent, Carll’s writing conjures up post-argument, lonely car rides of splendid vistas that could only be through Texas. In the struggle there is beauty. (2016)