Justin Townes Earle graced Knoxville with his presence again for the third or fourth time that I can think of in the last six to eight months. This time, he did double duty that day at WDVX's long-running daily live program "The Blue Plate Special" that airs at noon Monday through Friday. You can check them out and listen here if you are interested in hearing everything from bluegrass to country, traditional and standards, folk and hillbilly, and a little bit of everything else that is just left (and sometimes right) of center. More importantly, you probably won't hear most of this music anywhere in town...especially live, and for FREE.
Here's his six song set that I taped in three segments:
Hard Livin' and Ain't Glad I'm Leaving
The Ghost of Virginia and Biscuits
Lone Pine Hill and South Georgia Sugar Babe
Justin and company went on to play a great show later that night at the World Grotto, too, but I felt that this performance felt more like home and more indicative of JTE and what his music feels like, sounds like and strangely enough, looks like.
What makes JTE so unique is that he is ironically, unique. He is not trying to be his Daddy. In all actuality, he is completely different from his Daddy, musically (their personal lives and bad habits are somewhat synonymous with each other, as both have led lives on the road and battled drug addictions for many years). As Steve's music has changed over the years from county and rock, to folk and faux new-age, the younger Earle's music harkens back to days of old, where your family and you, after Saturday night dinner, would crowd around a small radio that the father saved up for for months and bought with savings from his hard work in the fields or at the factory. After dinner, you would rush over to the radio to tune in to the one station that that small wooden box with the bright light in the center could pick up. But what a big, bright sound that small radio would make, and that big, bright sound would sound something like JTE sounds today: Tales of love and leaving, death and destruction, addiction and salvation; complete with his southern drawl and fast-talking lines that creep out of the side of his mouth as if they have been sneaking out for years.
And it helps that Justin doesn't resemble his famous Daddy at all. He is slender, and tall. And by tall, I mean tall. At least 6'5". When he puts on his going-out-on-the-town suit for his evening shows, his sly smile, long, slender body and silver tongued honky-tonk and occasional desolate and despair-ridden lyrics from times gone past might just maybe remind you of someone from yesteryear.
And his name was Williams.
Check JTE out at: