(flyer art courtesy Derek Erdman)
How do I best describe Tommy Keene? America’s great living songwriter? A guy who transcended the power-pop scene long enough to see it revived for the 80th time? The only man to have backed both Bob Pollard and Paul Westerberg and lived to tell the tale? A man whose blink-and-you’ll-miss-it cameo in the Anthony Michael Hall star vehicle “Out Of Bounds” should have led to other starring roles? A chap who effortlessly fuses all the good bits from Big Star, the Flamin’ Groovies or the Only Ones and came up with an achingly smart, funny hybrid that sounds like no one as much as himself?
None of the above descriptions really do the Washington DC native / LA transplant justice, but over the last quarter century Keene’s recordings for a succession of labels (amongst them Park Ave., Dolphin, Geffen, Matador, Spin Art….I’m leaving a few out mostly to keep the discussion short) have combined for a staggering body of work — his 2009 ‘In The Late Bright’ (Second Motion) might be the best of the pile.
Keene’s not played Austin in ages (fronting his own band, anyway) and on this occasion he’s supported by pals Sally Crewe & The Sudden Moves (w/ whom he’s touring this month) and Austin’s criminally overlooked (by me, anyway) MonkeyTown. The show starts a tad earlier than most Emo’s events, in deference to the delicate sensibilities of the promoter, who has a plane to catch the next day (sorry)