It’s been a big year for Kelly Willis and Bruce Robison. Married for 16 years, both with solo careers as recording artists - though she’d sing harmony on his records and cover some of his songs on her albums - the couple entered 2013 as an official musical duo with the release of Cheaters’s Game. About half covers and half Robison compositions (his songs have been huge hits for George Strait, Tim McGraw and the Dixie Chicks), the album was met by positive reviews like Tom Jorek’s: “Its organic, relaxed, unforced approach is deceptively high in performance skill, yet resonates with an emotional depth that rings true throughout.” The album led to two Americana Music Award nominations for Album of the Year and Duo/Group of the Year.
Now as 2013 comes to a close, the couple embarks this week on something that has always been a team effort for 15 years: their annual Christmas Shows around Texas. As Bruce told the Austin Chronicle’s Margaret Moser, “We have a good time with the Christmas shows, and I’m the last person in the world who would have a Christmas show. I’m a very cynical person, but it’s taken on a life of its own because we’re not presenting ‘Chestnuts’ or the Bing Crosby Christmas. It’s just us.” Expect to hear beautiful pieces like “In the Bleak Midwinter” as well as honky-tonkers like “Please Daddy Don’t Get Drunk This Christmas,” as well as songs from Cheater’s Game and the rich catalogue of songs recorded by these two great talents over the years.
Photo by Todd V Wolfson