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The Lead July 5, 2022: Robert Earl Keen calls it a best last thing in his final Kerrville performance

The party was a big one at Louise Hays Park on Monday for the Fourth of July.

Good morning, Kerr County!

Here at The Lead, we consistently enjoy the simplistic vagaries of the National Weather Service's forecast. They use words and phrases like: "becoming sunny" and "hot" to describe the day. It works. So, here's the forecast — HOT. Hot and dry.

On today's The Lead Live!

We're thinking Kerrville Convention and Visitors Bureau President and Chief Executive Officer Julie Davis will join us on the show. She will likely tell us about weekend events — more live music to enjoy.

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Did you notice the Fourth of July quiet?

We didn't hear fireworks going off at her abode in the hills south of Peterson Regional Medical Center — refreshing. We're still traumatized by how fireworks traumatized our poor late dog several years ago. Of course, fireworks were banned across Kerr County thanks to a late emergency action last week by Kerr County Judge Rob Kelly. A peaceful Fourth of July was nice.

Robert Earl Keen plays it big on the Fourth

As Robert Earl Keen played his final songs, it was clear that the hometown crowd didn't want him to go.

"If there's a best last, this is my best last," Keen told the crowd — estimated to be more than 6,000 people.

Keen, the Americana legend, who calls Kerrville and the Hill Country home, is saying goodbye to the road after 41 years of traveling across the country to one gig after another. His last performances are coming in September.

His annual Fourth of July celebration is one of Kerrville's most significant events, and 2022 may have been the biggest yet. By 8 p.m., as Keen was readying to take the stage, the huge crowd was ready for the party to never end, and they kept coming into Louise Hays Park.

Of course, this year's lineup was especially attractive, with Del Castillo, Kylie Frey and Flatland Cavalry serving as the warmup acts for Keen. Frey played the event last year and said Kerrville is special to her.

At last year's event, Frey said one of her Kerrville fans handed her an envelope with cash to help her cover her tour expenses. It stunned Frey, and she dedicated a powerful rendition of "How Great Thou Art" to that fan.

Kylie Frey said she's fallen in love with Kerrville.

"As an artist starting out in this business, you lose more than you win," Frey said of the sometimes tricky finances of performing. "I saw his face in the crowd and it brought tears to my eyes."

Flatland Cavalry got the crowd on its feet during its set.

For Flatland Cavalry frontman Cleto Cordero he led a powerful and heartily cheered set and then spent more than 30 minutes signing autographs for fans who attempted to climb the fence to see him.

Flatland Cavalry was a big get for the concert organizers, and their emerging popularity was evident by the crowd's reaction. Cordero and his bandmates were thrilled to play in front of Keen.

"It's a priviliege," said Cordero, who joined his bandmates to watch Keen perform later that night. "It's like a dream come true, without being cliched."

Fans swamped Flatland Cavalry lead singer Cleto Cordero for autographs after his show.

Before the show, Keen interviewed the band for his Americana podcast, which will be one of his ongoing projects in retirement.

"You would thought we knew him forever the way we talked," Cordero said.

Cordero and his band started in 2014, forming while many were Texas Tech students. They've been touring ever since. With a coronavirus shutdown, Cordero said he felt it was a reset opportunity to rest, reconnect and write.

The band's lyrics and music seemed to resonate with the audience. Cordero said playing in front of the Kerrville audience and just behind Keen was another way to spread their music.

"It's a new audience for us," Cordero said.

Robert Earl Keen takes a bow after his final song on Monday night.

But the night belonged to Keen, who played for more than an hour, including many of his fan favorites — "Road Goes on Forever," "Corpus Christi Bay," and "Feeling Good Again."

During periods, the huge crowd danced, stood and cheered and shot a lot of selfies in front of the stage.

But as Keen left the stage for the last time, many chanted his name for one more song, but the party had to end at some point.

Abortion protest on Kerrville streets

A small group of pro-choice advocates picketed in front of the Ker County Courthouse on Monday. They received plenty of friendly honks of support, the obligatory screaming obscenities by a man and some dirty looks.

However, the abortion question will not go away anytime soon, and everyone is polling everyone on their feelings. The Supreme Court's narrow decision to overturn Roe V. Wade is one where the nation's minority opinion ended up ruling the day.

We wanted to check on what the country thinks about all of this, and it's tighter than most think. It seems that a majority of Americans believe some sort of abortion should be available, but they split on the specific actions available.

The blog FiveThirtyEight dove into the numbers, as did the website Vox, and found that the numbers are stagnant. Even the Gallup Poll shows pretty consistent polling on the abortion question. Here's how what FiveThirtyEight found: "To be sure, a greater share of Americans consistently think abortion should be mostly or always legal (an average of 58 percent across all surveys) than think it should be mostly or always illegal (an average of 39 percent). But it is telling that there hasn't been more of a change in how Americans are thinking about abortion."

Speaking of polling

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott still holds a lead over Democratic challenger Beto O'Rourke in the latest CBS News poll — by about an 8% margin. FiveThirtyEight, however, suggests the race won't be that close, with Abbott winning by about 13 percentage points. The site, known for its analysis, suggests Abbott's chances of winning the race are 96%. However, according to the CBS poll, Abbott's job approval is under some deep water — 54% disapprove of his performance. In Texas, Abbott's job approval is barely better than President Joe Biden, whom 59% of Texans say is doing a poor job.


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