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Robert Earl Keen performs concert

Robert Earl Keen, whose gritty musical tales of the down and out have made him an alt-country favorite, performs at 8 p.m. Friday, Jan. 18, in the Clifton Daggett Gray Athletic Building, 130 Central Ave. Guitarist-singer Willy Porter opens this concert sponsored by the Bates Activity Council. Tickets cost $12 and are available at Bull Moose Music stores in Maine and New Hampshire.

Houston native Keen began performing in the early 1980s while still at college (he roomed with Lyle Lovett). He won favor among alt-country or “y’alternative” cultists through heavy touring and widespread coverage of his songs by such artists as Nanci Griffith, Dar Williams, Gillian Welch and the Highwaymen. Keen’s big breakthrough followed his major-label debut, “Picnic” (Arista), which ruled the Americana charts for three months in 1997.

The Bates date is Keen’s only New England appearance on his current tour, which supports “Gravitational Forces,” his debut on the Lost Highway label and his ninth record overall. Here Keen extends his long line of hard-luck story songs and also covers tunes by Johnny Cash and Townes Van Zandt.

Willy Porter is a singer, songwriter and guitarist who has opened for artists as diverse as Jeff Beck, the Cranberries, Ricki Lee Jones and Sting. A native of Wisconsin, Porter has been praised for his “darkly complex” guitar work and the honesty of his songwriting.

For more information about the concert, please call 207-795-7496.



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