A few months back, I was introduced to a relatively recent song from the country group known as the Keefe Auber Band. Titled Texit, it’s a light-hearted musical anthem about Texas independence. The song, besides being a wonderful toe-tapper, seemed to make a very good basic case for Texas nationalism. So, naturally, I had to get Keefe Auber to sit down with the Texian Partisan to tell us about it! Graciously, he agreed.
Growing up in Nashville, Keefe Auber has been involved in the music scene for over 25 years. However, he’s called Texas home since 1980. Currently residing in Dallas, Keefe has played for various acts and names over the last 17 years. Now embarked on a solo effort, the Keefe Auber Band has been lumped-in with what has been known as outlaw country by Spotify and other streaming services. Though a bit unsure on that classification of his music, Keefe feels honored to be even peripherally associated with such country luminaries as Waylon Jennings and Willie Nelson.
Some big musical influences on Keefe have been Hayes Carll, Waylon, Dwight Yoakum, and particularly Johnny Paycheck, whom Keefe knew from his time in Nashville. In fact, so big was Paycheck’s influence, Keefe and his four-member band (largely made up of buddies that he’s played with over the years) were briefly called Johnny and the Paychecks before finally deciding on KAB. “It’s a great band! The players of the band are really, really sensational,” said Keefe about his current line-up. Certainly, anyone listening to tracks like “Don’t Let Me Down Easy Tonight” or “Tie Me Down (Don’t Turn Me Loose)” can easily appreciate the polished and rich sound that hearkens back to classic country while still keeping one foot planted in the present of the genre.
In addition to vocals and guitar (which he’s put to good use in various albums over the years), Keefe is a dedicated songwriter. Either for himself or for the use of others, Keefe has been writing songs since attending college in Denton, Texas; song-writing is an everyday exercise for the musician. Now, he’s showcasing all his talents with his first solo album: Time to Texit.
“About a year to a year and a half or so ago, we started increasingly getting booked, which was terrific!” “We started getting pretty good traction.” “The album was an off-shoot of the [success of the] band.” With this new local popularity, Keefe began experimenting with some original material. “We started playing a few of my songs, and I started [introducing] to the guys some of what I would call deeper cuts of mine, less obvious straight-ahead style stuff. And they kind of responded to it. So, we were playing all this stuff, and I thought, ‘Well, man! It’s sounding good, and we’re sort of developing this live. Let’s do this!’ I had an opportunity; I knew a guy with a studio, and he kind of made me an advantageous offer. So, I jumped in and did it.”
Keefe credits the title track, Texit, as a “catalyst” for creating the album.
[It] was a song we were starting to play a lot live. The Brexit thing was happening, and so Texit kind of hit people, their sensibility. You know, like, ‘Hey! We all know that’s a thing! That’s a term that’s out there.’ The idea of [a modern] secession has been around as long as I’ve been in the state (since 1980). But then, all of a sudden, here’s this label on it! The song came to me really easily, [and] it seemed like a fun idea. Anyway, we started playing it, and it was getting kind of a nice ‘HELL YEAH!’ response from crowds, so that really led us. I filled in some songs around that and put out a CD.
While being a crowd pleaser with it’s fun and colorful critique on the overreach of the federal government, for Keefe, Texit was not without a few moments of unease. “The first thing you do when you get done writing a song is you copyright it, legally, through the U.S. government [laughs]! So, it really wasn’t until I sat down to fill out the paperwork, which I’ve filled out dozens and dozens of times over the years… to send in all the rigmarole you have to do to get a copyright from the U.S copyright office, right? And so, I’m sitting there, and of course, you send them a copy of the lyrics and a copy of the demo of the song, and I’m sending it in thinking, “Wait a minute, here!” [Laughs] That’s when it really sunk into me. I’m discussing something here that isn’t perhaps a favorable thing [to] Washington D.C.!” “That’s when it hit me, the sort of import of the song!”
Though familiar with the Texas Nationalist Movement and other groups, Keefe’s not exactly actively involved in the cause. However, he has always been very much aware of that ever-present negative gut reaction to Washington, that instinctual precept that Texas ought to be run by Texans.
I don’t consider myself to be a particularly political person, to be honest with you. It’s just that sort of idea, that notion of Texas independence, the Republic of Texas, and just that idea has always been one that pretty much everyone I know here in the state… People always sort of hearken back to it; It’s always been this thing.
The Keefe Auber Band is a great example of local artists that apply their craft in an established genre but give it that Texas twist, making it a unique thing. Supporting Keefe and other Texas musicians in their work is always a good and even a patriotic thing to do for a Texan. However, it doesn’t hurt any that Keefe is just so good to listen to!
The Keefe Auber Band is available through LeSabre Records and Chewy Notes Publishing. If you’d like to purchase a CD or a download, or to attend one of their future performances in Dallas or Fort Worth, please visit the official website at http://keefeauber.com/.