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Robert Earl Keen Band Announce Christmas Album

The Xmas Men Santa is Real
The Xmas Men / Rosetta Records

The Robert Earl Keen Band are set to release a new Christmas album.

Band members Rich Brotherton (guitar, mandolin, banjo, vocals), Marty Muse (steel guitar, resonator guitar), Bill Whitbeck (bass, vocals) and Tom Van Schaik (drums, percussion) are stepping into the spotlight as “the Xmas Men” for the 12-track instrumental release. The album features classic Christmas songs re-invented in a playful mix of jazz, country and swing, an idea that came from the band’s performances opening for Keen’s holiday concerts.

“Originally, it was a more somber affair. We’d perform these delicate instrumental Christmas songs, dressed in black suits, as background music to set the mood for the show,” Brotherton says. “After a few shows, we decided we needed to step it up and do something more upbeat. So we let loose a little and dressed up in hillbilly outfits and performed Bob Wills-y type versions of Christmas carols. People dug it. It went so well that after the set, Robert said, ‘You guys need to make a record.’ So we did!”

The band members have spent 20 years as a backing band, and Brotherton says that they’re ready to show off their skills on their own.

“After all these years, we finally get to show off the instrumental prowess of the band,” he says. “I think it came out great. A lot of times Christmas records are either too somber or too goofy. This record is kitschy and fun without being too silly. I think it’s perfect for a Christmas party.”

But the band is still keeping their main gig: Fans can catch the Xmas Men on Keen’s Merry Christmas From the Fam-O-Lee Tour beginning Dec. 9 in San Antonio and continuing with dates across Texas. Upcoming dates can be found here.

‘Santa is Real’ is available for pre-order here.

The Xmas Men, ‘Santa is Real’ Track Listing:

1. ‘Sleigh Ride’
2. ‘Winter Wonderland’
3. ‘Jingle Bells / Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer’
4. ‘The Xmas Song’
5. ‘Here Comes Santa Clause’
6. ‘The Little Drummer Boy / Linus & Lucy’
7. ‘Merry Xmas From the Family’ feat. Floyd Domino
8. ‘Have a Holly Jolly Xmas’
9. ‘Santa Clause is Coming to Town’
10. ‘Xmas Time is Here’
11. ‘Let it Snow! Let it Snow! Let it Snow!’
12. ‘Have Yourself a Merry Little Xmas’

NEXT: Top 10 Country Christmas Songs

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