Brian Keane is as honest as they come. So honest, in fact, that at the famous Bluebird Cafe in Nashville he has been asked never to repeat his Americana Song of the Year “She Left Me for Jesus” (co-written with Hayes Carll). He debuted his criticism of Nashville songwriters (“I’ll Sing About Mine”) to a room full of… Nashville songwriters. “That was a little nerve-racking,” he laughs. “But it went over well. I get the impression they’re as tired of writing some of that stuff as we are of hearing it.” With his new collection of no-bull, straight from the heart songs with subjects ranging from being broke (“Living is Killing Me”), to being broke and in love (“Everything is Broken but My Heart”) to his well-worn experience in dive bars (“Spinning Wheels”), Brian Keane is winning over audiences everywhere — despite being honest enough to ruffle some feathers. Combine that with a sharp wit on -stage, a lyrical gift beyond his years, a badass band, and the courage to say exactly how he feels to anyone, anywhere and you have Brian Keane: a true artist about to make some huge waves.
Born and raised in the small town of Seneca, South Carolina, he skipped college to take a steady gig as a keyboard player, but after 2 years of playing covers he found that he was burned out and decided to take a break from music. After a few years of bartending, he began writing songs and decided to give music another go, this time as an artist. He made his debut record, “I Ain’t Even Lonely” on a shoestring budget in his third floor Austin apartment with producer/drummer Eldridge Goins. Keane paid for some of the record by working as an auto-mechanic. “I Ain’t Even Lonely” was overwhelmingly adored by critics, and reached #12 on the national Americana Airplay chart.
Also in 2006, Keane formed the Band of Heathens with fellow songwriters Gordy Quist, Colin Brooks, Ed Jurdi, and Seth Whitney. Their first record, “Live at Momo’s,” opened to critical success, as well as gaining signifiant airplay on Americana radio. In 2007, Keane left the band to continue his solo career. Keane and the Heathens remain friends and continue to rib each other as often as possible… sometimes even in song.
In 2009, Hayes Carll released a single co-written with Keane, called “She Left Me for Jesus.” The song made a big splash nationally, eventually going on to win “2009 Americana Song of the Year.” In his acceptance speech at the Ryman auditorium, Keane quipped “Well… uh… I guess we oughtta thank God first on this one.”
By 2010, Keane was getting anxious to release a record, but the songs weren’t coming. “I went through a pretty difficult breakup when I wrote my first record, and I was starting to think that I couldn’t write anything without going through some kind of emotional trauma.” His happy engagement to bassist/recording artist Rachel Loy wasn’t helping anything on that front, either. “I was writing all the time, but I felt like it all sounded forced. I was writing because I wanted to have a record, not because I actually had something to say.”
Eventually Keane sat down to write with Adam Hood, and the two got to talking about their experiences with the Nashville industry. “We didn’t sit down to write an anti-Nashville song, but in our limited experience with the Nashville establishment these problems were just glaring at us, and as we fleshed out the song it just kind of went in that direction.” The result was Keane’s first single, “I’ll Sing About Mine (The Tractor Song).” Suddenly, Keane had something to say again. “I discovered that it wasn’t emotional trauma that made me enjoy writing… it was just saying something that I felt was worth saying.” This shift in focus prompted the flood of songs that make up Keane’s upcoming record, “90 Miles an Hour.”