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Short Takes

SHORT TAKES | Robert Earl Keen brings his farewell tour to ETSU on Sunday

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Robert Earl Keen

Robert Earl Keen's farewell tour hits ETSU in Johnson City on Sunday, June 5.

Robert Earl Keen

An end to decades of long and winding roads appears on the near horizon for Robert Earl Keen. Keen announced early this year that he will retire from touring in September.

But first Keen will return to the Tri-Cities. See the Texas troubadour on Sunday, June 5, at the ETSU Martin Center for the Arts in Johnson City. Fellow songsmith John R. Miller opens. Excellent tickets remain.

Keen’s been keen on giving fans what they want during his final tour. Consequently, beloved songs occupy his set lists. Recent shows have included such sing-alongs as “Gringo Honeymoon,” Keen’s evergreen “The Road Goes on Forever” and the eternal “Merry Christmas from the Family.” As when he played in Bristol at The Cameo, tinges of wistfulness accompany Keen’s final round of performances. Catch the music master while you can.

Border Bash

For local music fans, summer arrives when Border Bash grinds underway.

So, may spring meld into summer on Friday, June 3. Border Bash, long beloved as downtown Bristol’s free summer music series, begins on Friday at the Downtown Center on the Tennessee side of State Street with Pittsburgh’s Buffalo Rose and Bristol’s Soulamanders.

There’s nothing nebulous about Buffalo Rose. Singers Lucy Clabby and Margot Jezerc embody harmonies as solid as beams of steel. A six-person band founded on folk and bridged into what classifies as Americana, Buffalo Rose has a storytelling mantra that captivates and inspires, as in their “The Soil and the Seed” LP and “Borrowed and Blue” EP. Buffalo Rose seethes like livewires. They compel minds to contemplate and legs to kick up their heels.

Abby Bryant & The Echoes

Down at the crossroads of seething rock and soothing soul, you’ll find the music of North Carolina’s Abby Bryant & The Echoes.

Plug in with Abby Bryant & The Echoes on Thursday, June 2, atop The Bristol Hotel at The Lumac Rooftop Bar in Bristol, Virginia. Lyrics empowering, songs paramount, they own a beguiling style that encompasses and projects where they’ve been and where they’re going.

Bryant’s voice blazes its own way. She’s not Dolly Parton distinct, but she’s certainly Abby Bryant original. A lure with lyrics and gifted with fetching material, including an elegiac “Time Wasn’t on Our Side” and a feverish “Tried,” Bryant reels in those who haven’t forgotten how to feel. On rockers, she’s exclamation emphatic. On ballads, she’s serenely poignant. When singing, Abby Bryant makes folks want to simply listen and love.

Music Notes

Bristol’s Border Bash returns tomorrow. It resumes most every other Friday through Friday, Aug. 5.

Two weeks from tomorrow brings Mama Fuma’s Bristol debut during Border Bash on Friday, June 17. Steeped in Latin American rhythms, lead singer and percussionist Nikki Guerra helms an absolutely spellbinding troupe. Summery sounds ooze from their Cuban beats like a welcome breeze on a blistery hot day. Bristol’s TJ Darnell will open.

Skip to Monday, July 4. Per Border Bash tradition, the summer concert series encamps on Independence Day in Cumberland Square Park. Longtime favorite Scythian headlines. Johnson City’s Florencia and the Feeling open. Bands built for booty-shaking audiences, neither qualify as sedate or safe music. Sweet as oranges off the vine, theirs are summertime sounds made for waves of heat and people.

North Carolina alt-rockers Swim in the Wild lead the marquee for Border Bash on Friday, July 15. Southwest Virginia’s Craig Street opens the evening. Idiosyncratic lead singer Steven Hall leads Swim in the Wild, whose sense of dramatic lyrics and musicality permeates recent singles “Two if by Sea” and “Wants & Needs.”

Gatlinburg dynamos Tuatha Dea conclude Border Bash on Friday, Aug. 5. Former Folk Soul Revival singer Daniel Davis fills the opening slot.

Each installment of Border Bash begins at 6 p.m. with music at 6:30 p.m. For more information, call 423-573-2201.

Border Bash isn’t alone as a local summertime concert series. The Pinnacle has announced its lineup for its 2022 Summer Concert series for the month of June. Slated to run until Labor Day weekend, shows are free of charge and begin at 6:30 p.m.

Friday, June 3, brings Abingdon’s Logan Fritz. Saturday, June 4, heralds Jarid Reedy. Friday, June 10, highlights W. Albert “Bill” Edwards. Saturday, June 11, welcomes Bristol’s Momma Molasses. Friday, June 17, spotlights Chancellor Lawson while Saturday, June 18, offers Jenna Greene of Orbital Planes. June concludes with Elizabethton’s Julie Williams and Willie Melton on Friday, June 24, followed by Johnson City’s Kasey Williams on Saturday, June 25.

For additional information on the concert series at The Pinnacle, call 276-466-2626.

Abingdon’s Ron Addison stirs the blues in this week’s free MP3 downloads. Summon and scroll to the bottom of the page. Supply an email address. Momentarily, a downloadable copy of Addison’s full album “Testify” will follow. Recorded in November 2019 at Mike Stephenson’s Classic Recording Studio, the 10-track album features Addison’s signature raw-boned style of blues.

Tom Netherland is a freelance writer. He may be reached at


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