Justin Townes Earle is the kind of songwriter and performer that reminds me how important real country music is. With the utter shit that passes for "country" music these days, it seems that real country music is getting increasingly lost behind the redneck pop that is marketed as country music. Sure, plenty of people can reference Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings, Hank Williams or Gram Parsons in conversation -- but when you think of country music, for most people, the first image that comes to mind is Garth Brooks or Taylor Swift.
I don't get the impression that Justin Townes Earle is on a mission to change that, but I think his music has the power to. His background and musical influences are obvious (um, Justin Townes Earle) -- but this dude clearly loves and appreciates the history of the music he plays. During his set at Great Scott he took us all on a tour of southern roots music -- folk, honky tonk, blues, -- covering Woody Guthrie, Lightnin' Hopkins and The Replacements (!?). His originals vary from traditional rave ups to country inflected folk ballads. Live, the songs come to life even more than on record thanks to a fantastic band (fiddle and upright bass) and captivating stage presence and showmanship. The full set is offered for stream or download below in excellent sound quality - enjoy!
They Killed John Henry
Halfway to Jackson
I Don't Care (Woody Guthrie)
What Do You Do When You're Lonesome
Boy Keep Movin'
So Different Blues (Mance Lipscom)
Starter Wont' Start (Lightnin' Hopkins)
What I Mean to You
Someday I'll Be Forgiven For This
Ain't Glad I'm Leavin'
Workin' For The MTA
Mama I'm Coming Home
Midnight at the Movies
South Georgia Sugar Babe
Can't Hardly Wait (The Replacements)
Close Up The Honky Tonks (Buck Owens)
Check out State of Mind for fantastic photos from the show here
Wanted to share this video of Joe Pug and Justin Townes Earle covering Atlantic City by Bruce Springsteen from their show in Carrboro NC. Love the quote "If you don't like Springsteen, then you don't like Woody Guthrie, which means you don't like songs"