Is That Robert Earl Keen Behind the Mysterious “Stryker Brothers” Project?
Perhaps you’ve caught wind of it, or perhaps you haven’t. But there is a strange project that is preparing to be released on September 7th by a pair of country music performers called The Stryker Brothers that has folks trying to figure out what the hell is going on, and who the hell is behind it all. The record is called Burn Band, and the back story claims that two brothers named Coal and Flynt were early legends in the Texas music scene, and contemporaries of people like Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard before they perished in a prison fire on September 7th, 1974.
Prefaced by videos from Bruce Robison, Lloyd Maines, Shooter Jennings, and of all people, former astronaut Charlie Duke (see below), the story goes that reel to reel tapes of The Stryker Brothers’ music were recently found in the basement of the burned-out wreckage of the prison where they died. The tapes were in a trunk that also contained photos of The Highwaymen, a letter to astronaut Charlie Duke, and prison intake forms for Coal and Flynt. Handlers of The Stryker Brothers material have even gone as far as to supply photos of said trunk and it’s contents, which have been posted through the band’s social media feeds.
A quote attributed to rancher Mary Lambau in the press release accompanying the Stryker Brothers project states, “I couldn’t believe what we’d found. And all these years, it’d been sitting there on right under my nose. Sure … we’d all heard the mythology about how Coal and Flynt Stryker died in that prison fire, but could that have been true? Could these tapes really be all that remained of the two?”
If you believe yourself to be a well-versed Texas music fan and are wondering if the back story is less truth and more an elaborate piece of performance art, you’re probably right. The image above the band’s social media accounts says,
The Stryker Brothers are an enigma…
their history is nebulous yet their
contribution to the musical tapestry of
a generation is undeniable.
Where did they come from?
Where did they go?
Any why isn’t their music out there?
Clearly someone is screwing with all of us, and wanting us to ask the question, “Who are The Stryker Brothers?” We know it’s somebody who can wrangle Bruce Robison, Shooter Jennings, and astronaut Charlie Duke to vouch for them, so it’s probably not some fresh-faced up-and-comer just trying to draw attention to themselves.
You also might be asking what 82-year-old astronaut Charlie Duke has to do with any of this. For those not boned up on their space history, Charles Duke Jr. was an Air Force Brigadier General who piloted the Apollo 16 space mission to The Moon in 1972. Duke was the 10th human to ever walk on The Moon, the youngest human to ever do so, and one of the last to visit the lunar surface since Apollo 16 was the next-to-last mission of the Apollo program.
Charlie Duke also happens to have his own place in country music history as the astronaut who brought country music to The Moon. You can hear all about it in the first song from The Stryker Brothers appropriately called “Charlie Duke Took Country Music to the Moon,” complete with the original Merle Haggard introduction to the country music recordings brought to the moon by the Apollo 16 mission.
But again, the question that remains is, “Who are the Stryker Brothers?” Saving Country Music has reached out to the various entities involved in the project, but they’ve all been sworn to secrecy, probably because they really don’t want us to know. But listening to the lead single, one of the brothers sure does sound like Robert Earl Keen. But perhaps it’s just someone who sounds like Robert Earl Keen. And even if it is REK, this doesn’t answer the question of who the other Stryker brother is, and if it’s someone else famous in Texas or country music. And of course, even if you can fill in both names, it really doesn’t fill you in on what the hell is going on.
Perhaps when Burn Band is released officially on September 7th and we get a full snoot of the 13 tracks, we’ll get a better handle on all of this. But until then, it’s definitely an interesting riddle to try and solve, and if nothing else, The Stryker Brothers have contributed a fun piece of country music history about Charlie Duke and his lunar contribution to country music.
August 30, 2018 @ 7:52 am
Well, I’m pretty sure that is Randy Rogers singing first.
August 30, 2018 @ 8:57 am
That’s who I’m hearing
September 7, 2018 @ 6:34 am
One is Todd Snyder!
September 26, 2018 @ 10:33 am
I agree, I was thinking Wade Bowen in there too… definitely Randy though
August 30, 2018 @ 8:01 am
Um, clearly this is Gary cherone, the third and best singer for Reggae phenoms Van Halen
August 30, 2018 @ 8:13 am
Ha. I’ve been to one Van Halen concert in my life, and, of course, it had to be Gary Cherone.
August 30, 2018 @ 8:20 am
Same! 1998, Sunrise Musical Theater in the suburbs of Fort Lauderdale.
August 30, 2018 @ 8:32 am
I am too young to have seen them with Diamond Dave the first time around, but that is the only way I would ever see them again. I can’t stand Van Halen with Sammy Haggar. Every song from that era has “love” in the title. Boring garbage.
August 30, 2018 @ 8:42 am
Right there with ya, man. I can name a few bands who made great music with non-original frontmen, but Van Halen is not one of them.
And the hell of it is, I liked pretty much everything else Sammy Hagar was involved in.
August 30, 2018 @ 8:49 am
I’m not sure what song you are referencing. I won’t listen to any post-1984 Van Halen songs.
August 30, 2018 @ 8:53 am
I saw VH on the 5150 tour with Sammy, and the reunion tour with Dave and Wolfgang replacing Michael Anthony.
I’m not sure which was worse.
August 30, 2018 @ 8:56 am
I was mostly there because a friend had an extra ticket and asked me to go. Wasn’t really my thing. I was more of a punk rock kid.
August 30, 2018 @ 9:03 am
I was there for the same reason. I had no interest in seeing Van Halen without David Lee Roth, but I had a free ticket. Van Halen with Sammy Haggar was a band exclusively for chicks. I don’t see how the vast majority of that music can be enjoyed by a straight male. I think they did a hard turn when Roth left and said “Our fan base is 80% guys. How can we pander to women?” So, they brought in the Red Rocker and released mostly crappy, saccharine love songs. It worked. They sold out and sold more records. But, with a few exceptions, that entire era of VH is absolute garbage.
August 30, 2018 @ 8:44 am
I’m genuinely sorry you had to see that show, ’cause you probably had to endure Eddie singing his incredibly shitty piano ballad on that same album, I’m guessing?
August 30, 2018 @ 8:50 am
Whoops. The above response was meant for this comment.
August 30, 2018 @ 8:27 am
Yeah, no doubt that is Randy Rogers. Not 100% sure on the other one. Probably Gary Cherone. Or REK.
August 30, 2018 @ 8:31 am
Holy shit, Wade Bowen is gonna be pissed when he finds out that Randy Rogers is letting Robert Earl Keen hold his beer.
August 30, 2018 @ 8:45 am
Found this track list on line, along with this “description”:
Charlie Duke Took Country Music To The Moon
Blue Today Baby
Ain’t Gonna Rain No More
Ft. Worth Was A Fabulous Waste of Time
What Have You Got To Win
Charlie Duke Took Country Music To The Moon (The Director’s Cut)
“There’s a mythical, fraternal pair known only as the Stryker Brothers whose ghostly chords and verses have haunted the desolate Texas prairies for decades. There isn’t much known about the brothers. No legal records of the two exist. It was only a year ago that a set of original, reel-to-reel tapes were discovered. Those who had come across the Stryker Brother’s music before the tapes were discovered were rumored to be transfixed by what they’d heard… drawn in like moth to flame. Entranced. Many drove for days into the barren Texas landscape to feel closer to the Strykers’ ghostly serenade, some never to return. So, what happened to the brothers? Did they really perish in a prison fire? Did they go into hiding? Are they ghosts, earth-bound, playing for eternity under a lonely Texas sky? Perhaps we’ll never know, but it is said that during the hottest Texas summer nights — if you listen carefully — you can hear their intoxicating melodies playing amid the moonlit shadows on those desolate desert plains.”
August 30, 2018 @ 1:20 pm
Ft. Worth Was A Fabulous Waste of Time is a song Randy would play on the HMBWT tour with Wade back in the day. Glad he is cutting it finally, cause it’s a great song.
August 30, 2018 @ 1:24 pm
They should get Gary Floater to open for them.
August 30, 2018 @ 8:51 am
It sounds so clearly like REK, I can’t possibly be anyone else.
September 3, 2018 @ 2:48 pm
Hmm. I’m not so sure, but I’m not as sure you’re wrong as you are you’re right.
August 30, 2018 @ 8:54 am
My money’s on REK and Randy Rogers.
August 30, 2018 @ 9:06 am
Damn nice of that prison to have such a good recording studio for the inmates.
I think the mystery second singer is the Blair Witch. Does legend also have it that after listening to this, it causes people to stand facing the corner of the room?
August 30, 2018 @ 9:07 am
No doubt the one is Randy Rogers
August 30, 2018 @ 9:32 am
Whomever it might be, like the song.
Dirt Road Derek
August 30, 2018 @ 9:45 am
I love the fun backstory they’ve created, great attention to detail. And the first single is really good, too 🙂
August 30, 2018 @ 10:00 am
I love it too. It’s a really cool idea! We need more stuff like this
August 30, 2018 @ 11:01 am
Agree that it’s fun, but I wouldn’t give it an A+ for details. To me, they went a little too far on the stories and, and even the sound of the recording is way too clean and modern, just as an example. Would have been cool to give that some authenticity. Personally, I would say great job on the details, if I actually had to wonder if it was real for a minute or 2.
Dirt Road Derek
August 30, 2018 @ 11:07 am
I agree about the quality of the recording. If they really wanted wanted fully commit to the story they created it would have a good idea to make it sound more dated. But I don’t think they really intended to fool anyone in thinking the whole thing was authentic. My impression is they just wanted to do something fun and different than the typical PR routine.
August 30, 2018 @ 1:19 pm
So their goal was to make it a “great attention to detail” story in which they went to great lengths with these interviews, etc, but intentionally made sure not to make it good enough that it might temporarily make someone actually wonder, for a minute, if it was true? You seem to be pretty dialed in to exactly what their intentions were. Wait, what did you say your name was again?
Dirt Road Derek
August 30, 2018 @ 1:34 pm
Who said they “intentionally made sure not to make it good enough”?
Who said you can’t put a lot of effort and detail into something that’s just for fun?
Would you have preferred they half assed it so it was boring and uninteresting? How exactly would that kind of promotion/marketing help sell the project?
Why are you so angry? Are you upset that it’s not authentic? Does that mean you can’t enjoy it now?
Why did you ask me what my name is? Have you not noticed it’s at the top of all my comments?
Or did you think that’s too much attention to detail to real? Too obvious to be fake?
Did you happen to notice who pissed in your fruit loops this morning or were you too busy policing the comments for something to bitch and moan about?
Huh? Hmmm? Huh?
August 30, 2018 @ 1:45 pm
Uhh…not sure if you are joking, like I was by asking your name, aka like you were part of the conspiracy, but…OK buddy, way to set me straight.
Bro-Country, Yeah Baby
August 30, 2018 @ 9:50 am
Feelin Good Again!!
August 30, 2018 @ 10:26 am
I’m so confused right now and sorry Trigger, your article did not help the cause. Is the album being released contemporary recordings of the songs supposedly found on the prison tapes, supposedly the prison takes themselves, or some mix of the two (think “there’s a tear in my beer”). It sounds to me like this is a hoax being put on by modern artists and are putting out the album under a pseudonym. Is that the most likely scenario? Were the Stryker brothers actually real? I’m not trying to be a smart ass here but I am genuinely confused about what is going on. Asking for you to spell it out, if you wish
August 30, 2018 @ 10:55 am
Does Trigger and others trying to figure out who the real singers are, not spell it out for you?
August 30, 2018 @ 6:10 pm
Think of the Travelling Wilburys.
August 30, 2018 @ 11:02 am
Guy terrifico…… already done.
August 30, 2018 @ 11:23 am
You have to buy the record to get the box of cracker jax to get the secret de-coder ring.
August 30, 2018 @ 11:29 am
An article about the Austin music scene from the 70’s- and not one mention of the brothers.
In 1972 the Austin music scene exploded with a new, rootsy form of country that turned its back on Nashville and embraced the counterculture. Forty years later, Willie Nelson, Jerry Jeff Walker, Michael Martin Murphey, and a host of other cosmic cowboys and redneck rockers remember the first Dripping Springs Reunion, the time Waylon Jennings almost got busted, and the birth of outlaw country.
Bill from Wisconsin
September 1, 2018 @ 6:58 am
DJ, thanks much for that link. Great history on a lot of the people I have been listening to for years! A great read for everyone.
August 30, 2018 @ 11:39 am
1:38 Randy Rogers sings “you know the one they made a movie about”… no way it’s a 70’s song.
Nice try though, like what i hear…
August 30, 2018 @ 12:52 pm
My guess is Randy Rogers & Roger Craeger
August 30, 2018 @ 1:17 pm
Is this up for discussion? This is 100% Randy and REK. I’d bet my space force acceptance letter on it.
August 30, 2018 @ 6:54 pm
You win this round of the comment section.
September 3, 2018 @ 3:47 pm
Shooter Jennings and REK.
August 30, 2018 @ 2:46 pm
I knew whenever I saw the track list. A song titled “Throwing Shade” from 40 years ago? Riiiiight.
August 31, 2018 @ 12:43 pm
If this isn’t Randy Rogers and Robert Earl Keen, I’ll go to a Dan & Shay concert.
Sorry, Dan + Shay.
September 3, 2018 @ 1:53 pm
Sounds like REK, definitely Shooter and someone else.
September 7, 2018 @ 2:20 pm
One is definitely Randy Rogers. I have been listening to him for years and he has a very distinctive voice. The other one could be Wade Bowen or REK. I have also heard a lot of Shooter and pretty positive it is not him.
September 5, 2018 @ 10:19 pm
This is so clearly Randy Rogers and Robert Earl Keen. I can see how a few commenters saw Roger Craeger in there for a few lines, but it’s likelier just REK with a bit less gravel in his voice.
Either way, I’m grinning ear to ear listening to RR delivering his half-laughed lyrics about the moon and harmonizing with REK. God, I love Texas so much. And I don’t even live there anymore.
September 7, 2018 @ 6:36 am
Todd Snider is one!
September 8, 2018 @ 7:29 pm
Are there people really still trying to figure this out? It’s Randy Rogers and Robert Earl Keen. The science is settled.
September 7, 2018 @ 8:02 am
DL’d last night. Listened to first half on way into work. Zero doubt in my mind that it’s Randy and REK. Zero doubt.
(Which means I’m probably wrong).
So far, so good. Lots of steel all over this thing.
September 25, 2018 @ 8:03 pm
The Charlie Duke song talks about Apollo 13, “the one they made the movie about.” That movie didn’t come out until 1995. So the song was written after that.
November 20, 2018 @ 8:36 am
This is a fucking stupid project. Just lost all the respect I had for REK. Randy Rogers is a garbage songwriter and always has been.