Robert Earl Keen to Release Multi-Format Project “Western Chill”

Robert Earl Keen took his final bow as a live performer at 12:48 in the morning on September 5th, 2022 at the legendary Floore’s Country Store in Helotes, TX. At 67 years old, you may not want to believe that Keen has really hung up his spurs for good. But Robert Earl has avowed that he means it, and so far, no new tour plans or appearances have materialized.

But the Texas country legend did qualify at the time that he wasn’t done writing and creating. “Quitting the road doesn’t mean I’m dead, and it doesn’t mean I’m going to quit producing stuff” he said at the time.

In November of 2020 during the pandemic, Robert Earl Keen and his band played a one-off 14-song streaming event on called Western Chill featuring a few new songs from Keen, as well as songs from his bandmates. It was recorded in Keen’s “Snake Barn” on his ranch in Medina, Texas.

Then right around the time last year that Keen played his final show, an album strangely surfaced on Spotify and other streaming services called Western Chill. Just about as quickly as Western Chill showed up and some lucky folks got a quick listen, it had disappeared once again. But it left Robert Earl Keen fans buzzing that unreleased music was still out there in the offing.

The album Western Chill will finally making its official debut on April 14th, but that’s not all. It will be accompanied in Box Set form with Robert Earl Keen and his band performing the entire album on DVD, a Western Chill songbook—and get this—a 92-page full-color graphic novel done by Scott Faris and Rachel Faris Ross of FarisWheel Productions, along with illustrator Bryan Burke.

“We first got the call from Robert asking if we wanted to take this on sometime around the end of March [of 2022],” says Scott Faris with a laugh. “We kind of joked that we were the only ones that would say yes! Because it was a huge, huge project, you know? But in the end, we managed to do it all in about 10 weeks. It was intense, but it really was a massive honor just to work on it. I mean, I know we’re talking about a comic, but it’s also a piece of Robert’s history—and a piece of Texas music history now, too.” 

The album, DVD, songbook, and graphic novel will only be available in box set form, at least for now. That also means that the Western Chill album won’t be available for streaming or download either. It is being released through Robert Earl Keen’s own label, Scriptorium Rex.

Along with the new Robert Earl Keen song “Western Chill,” the album includes the song “Waves” by fiddle player Brian Beken, an instrumental by mandolin player Kym Warner called “Hey Stranger,” and other selections.

Western Chill is a collaborative, multi-format effort, and it is now available for pre-order.

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