Psychedelic country collective the Keener Family drop a debut four years in the making | Gossip Wolf | Chicago Reader

Psychedelic country collective the Keener Family drop a debut four years in the making 

Plus: Dustin Laurenzi’s Snaketime helps Mississippi Records celebrate the music of Moondog, and the Era Footwork Crew bring the stage show In the Wurkz to Links Hall.

Christopher Keener and Aubrey Ann Howard of the Keener Family - PHOTO BY THE KEENER FAMILY
  • Christopher Keener and Aubrey Ann Howard of the Keener Family
  • Photo by the Keener Family

Local singer-songwriter Christopher Keener has led psychedelic country crew the Keener Family since 2015. After posting occasional demos on Bandcamp, in November the band dropped two tracks from their first full-length, Tender Beast, which Keener calls a "critique of my past experience with abuse, abandonment, and being 'too sensitive,' and how those experiences can push me to be a stronger man and a more present, accepting father and partner." Lead single "Raised on the Roar" is filled with swirling, shoegazy twang (the band half-jokingly call their music "bootgaze"), and when Keener sings with his wife, Aubrey Ann Howard, they sound like Bill Callahan and Emmylou Harris. On Wednesday, December 18, the Keener Family play a release show at the Empty Bottle.

This week, Chicago-via-Portland label Mississippi Records drops On the Streets of New York, a compilation of early recordings by famously eccentric (and famously influential) New York street musician Moondog, many previously unreleased. On Thursday, December 12, the label celebrates with a show at the Co-Prosperity Sphere by horn-fronted local octet Snaketime, led by Twin Talk reedist Dustin Laurenzi, which will play Moondog originals. (In March, Laurenzi released Snaketime: The Music of Moondog.) Mississippi staff will spin rare Moondog tracks and sell records and cassettes.

In July, the New England Foundation for the Arts awarded Chicago footwork crew the Era a $90,000 grant through the National Dance Project. The money helped fund a national tour of their stage show In the Wurkz, which makes its "community debut" at Links Hall on Friday, December 13—the show features original music from DJ Spinn, Jana Rush, DJ Earl, and the Era. The performance runs again Saturday, December 14, and the Era host an all-ages community workshop at the same venue on Sunday, December 15.  v

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