Network News

X My Profile
View More Activity
Post Rock Archive  |  About the Bloggers  |  E-mail: Click Track  |  On Twitter: Click Track  |  RSS Feeds RSS
Posted at 1:48 PM ET, 12/20/2010

In concert: Justin Townes Earle at 9:30 Club

By Scott Galupo

justin townes earleJustin Townes Earle addressed his demons at 9:30 Club on Sunday. (All photos by Kyle Gustafson/FTWP)

How to handle the Himalayan weight of famous fathers and their troubled friends?

Justin Townes Earle — son of Steve Earle and namesake of the late Townes Van Zandt, iconic singer-songwriters both — has had to deal with more pressing personal demons: as he put it at the 9:30 Club on Sunday night, “a continuing problem with incarceration and chemical dependency.”

He meant it humorously, and it was taken so. But the joke barely masked the reality of disenchantment and self-destruction his songs leave in plain view. Earle, 28, was dressed like a Depression-era busker, nervously stalking center-stage as though basketball’s three-second rule applied to microphones. Flanked by a violinist and an upright bassist, he served up delightfully time-warped rockabilly (“Move Over Mama”) and country blues (Lightnin’ Hopkins’ “I Been Burning Bad Gasoline”).

justin townes earle

The proficient picking and fiddling gave way to moments of pin-drop quiet, as Earle unfurled confessional ballads like “Who Am I To Say,” “Someday I’ll Be Forgiven For This” and “Mama’s Eyes,” the latter offering a complete genetic picture of his mother’s “long thin frame” and his father’s penchant for hell-raising.

Not that mom (Carol-Ann Hunter) was meek: Earle — with his trademark admixture of pathos and farce — recounted that she once decked dad with a single punch that detached his retina. Musically, if not emotionally, Earle has staged a great escape. He’s kept up a prolific pace, dropping three full-length albums in as many years, including most recently “Harlem River Blues.”

A dexterous, old-fashioned Travis-style finger-picker with a love for Dust Bowl folk and postwar acoustic blues, Earle tends toward the formal in onstage couture. The look and sound add up to a tradition-bound pose — young hipster with an old soul. The juxtaposition worked beautifully on “One More Night in Brooklyn,” a tale of dreary tenement living in Crown Heights. Earle delivered it with a combination of warmth and tartness that fans of Lyle Lovett have appreciated for years.

Earle wrapped his set with a drawling cover of the Paul Westerberg-penned classic “Can’t Hardly Wait” — thereby invoking the name of another godfather with a history of occasional bad behavior.

justin townes earle

justin townes earle

justin townes earle

justin townes earle

By Scott Galupo  | December 20, 2010; 1:48 PM ET
Categories:  In concert  | Tags:  Justin Townes Earle  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: In concert: Liz Phair at 9:30 Club
Next: Lists: Allison Stewart picks her top ten albums of 2010

No comments have been posted to this entry.

Post a Comment

We encourage users to analyze, comment on and even challenge's articles, blogs, reviews and multimedia features.

User reviews and comments that include profanity or personal attacks or other inappropriate comments or material will be removed from the site. Additionally, entries that are unsigned or contain "signatures" by someone other than the actual author will be removed. Finally, we will take steps to block users who violate any of our posting standards, terms of use or privacy policies or any other policies governing this site. Please review the full rules governing commentaries and discussions.

characters remaining

RSS Feed
Subscribe to The Post

© 2010 The Washington Post Company