For Valentines, the wife and I went into the city, Little 5 Points to be exact. We had dinner at Front Page News. Front Page News is a little bit of authentic New Orleans cooking right in Atlanta. The dining area is gorgeously decorated with New Orleans style metal railing around a balcony. The food was quite delicious. The wife had shrimp and grits which were topped with a corn relish that she raved about. The service was great and the atmosphere was enjoyable and relaxing.

Please excuse the quality of this photo, it was the best the cellphone could render, but there was this series of abbreviations over the bar that caught my attention...


I was curious, but did not inquire with the wait staff. I googled it instead :)

"If I tell you what it means, will you buy me a drink?"

I wonder how many folks have collected a free drink (or how many drinks) from that sign.

But the main reason we were in Little 5 for Valentines Day, was to hear a Texas musician that I have enjoyed for over 10 years...

Robert Earl Keen, Jr.

Robert attended Texas A&M University, where he majored in English. He rented a house from landlord Jack Boyett, where his neighbor was a then-unknown Lyle Lovett. The two became fast friends and performed together on the front porch many evenings and according to Robert, on Sundays after the Church across the street let out. He and Lyle Lovett found it amusing to sit on the front porch in their underwear, strap on a guitar and a banjo and sing and play gospel songs as the old folks walked by to their cars to give them something to talk about on their way to Lubies.

Robert moved to Nashville, but wasn't warmly embraced by the music establishment. He moved back to Austin and began recording and touring. He acquired a dedicated following and has continued to enjoy the "off chart" success. His CDs sell on his website and he packs the house at the smaller venues that he regularly plays.

REK was performing at the Variety Playhouse this night and sold out the 1,050 capacity hall. The crowd was a mix of college kids, older folks, and cowboys. Dedicated followers brought props to wave during songs and the environment was a sing-a-long party.

The first REK song I ever heard was about 10-12 years ago on the Johnboy and Billy Show (syndicated from Charlotte) during the holiday season. The song, Merry Christmas from the Family, left me saying "I need to find out who this guy is."

We both enjoyed the show. A small brawl broke out in front of the stage area as soon as the lights came up after the show was over. The Variety Playhouse serves beer in longneck glass bottles for some stroke of wisdom, so there were about 200 bottles rolling around on the floor while the two rufkins wailed on each other and one ended up with the classic bloody face. The Variety Playhouse employs a handful of guys as security who were unable to intervene. The security staff didn't have anything other than their white t-shirts. So, since they didn't have radios, one had to run out the front door to summons the police. We eased out the side door while they processed a scene made for COPS on FOX. As we crossed the parking lot I saw REK's shiny Prevost Motorcoach. He may not have a gold record and his music might not be sold at the large record store in the mall, but he seems to be enjoying a comfortable life.

"The Road Goes on Forever and the Party Never Ends" is a tune he penned several years back and was later recorded by the Highway Men (Willie Nelson, Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings and Kris Kristofferson). Indeed, the Party Never ends.


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