Sorry for the absence. Work, computer death scare, and a 6,300+ word fantasy baseball article got in the way of writing here. At least it means I've got stuff to write about now. Starting with...
I'm not sure what it was that grabbed me, but within the past couple of months the latest Justin Townes Earle* record has kept finding its way back into my CD player. In the car. At work(s). Non-stop.
*Just in case some of you need this explained, Justin Townes Earle is Steve Earle's son. His middle name is in honor of Townes Van Zandt. He seems to be intent to deliver on every ounce of promise that pedigree offers.
The reason this is odd is that I bought it months ago. I listened to it a bit. I liked it.
I didn't become preternaturally disposed to listening to it until the last two months or so. Now, I listen to it multiple times a week. Maybe it was the "Can't Hardly Wait" cover*
--a song that I was already obsessing over when I first bought Midnight at the Movies--that started me back up, but obviously one song is not enough to force an entire album into your life repeatedly.
*Ryan, you sure as shit better have been at the show this is from. Isbell and Justin Townes Earle? That's just fucking crazy...
Regardless, I've been playing the shit out of this album. The obsession came at a great time because it just so happened that Justin Townes Earle was playing Stubb's Inside tonight.
When we (The Special Lady Friend, multiple road trip companion Chad, and myself) first got to Stubb's, we seemed to have been cursed. The first spot on the floor we secured was next to a Susan Powter/Brigitte Nielsen* hybrid who apparently had no idea where the stage was and instead seemed intent upon loudly (and intelligently...) prattling on about anything and everything, cackling as the mood brought her to it.
*Late-80s/early-90s era Nielsen. Like married to Sly, not drunkenly hooking up with Flavor Flav in hot tubs with cameras rolling, although from what Sly has said, she was just as batshit crazy then, too. Oh, and feel free to inspect what is going on with Nielsen's left hand.
As soon as space somewhere not next to this wonderful couple opened up somewhere else on the floor, we relocated. This time we were greeted by a group who could be best described as people in town on business who had never been to a concert in their lives and therefore thought that it was all right to scream over the top of the band playing on the stage. Luckily for us (but not for the opener, Dawn Landes, whose newly styled late-60s Loretta Lynn hairdo aptly befit her engaging musical stylings), the Indianapolitans (or insert any equally culture-less town that you might prefer) took the intermission as an opportunity to smoke in the patio area, deeming it a better place to try to hook up with the likewise married colleagues while out of state than the louder club floor.
So by the time Justin Townes Earle took the stage, the assholes had migrated, and we were thankfully able to enjoy the show without the distraction of douchebaggery*. And we were lucky because the show was great. TSLF couldn't stop raving when we got out and deemed it worth going to work on five-ish hours of sleep before her head hit the pillow.
*Well, not entirely. Chad said afterward that the doucher next to him, out of place in a button-up dress shirt (this is a country show, son), asked the girl he was with if they could go now during each of the last five or six songs. I know what you're thinking, and no, she wasn't his mother.
As for the details, Justin Townes Earle stayed true to the music he's playing and put on a show complete with all the old-timey country between song banter and showmanship. There were darlin's to spare, he brought Miss Dawn Landes up for a duet, he sang about trains, he prodded the audience to get his bandmates beverages of the alcoholic variety, and he spoke lovingly but jokingly about his mother. As a member of the crowd got too boisterous, he said (roughly), "My mama's got three inches reach on me, which means she's got six on you." He exclaimed, "Oh, my damn!" enough times that if you ever hear the kids saying it, you'll know where it came from.
And the music? Well, the music made me want to learn to dance--don't get any ideas, TSLF... The appropriately attired band (Bryn Davies on upright bass and Josh Hedley on the fiddle) had his back at every turn, and despite the sparser arrangements resulting from touring with a three-piece band, the songs played great. Sure, there's no infectious mandolin line in the "Can't Hardly Wait" cover, and keys play a big part in a lot of his songs, but this was one helluva slice of contemporized Americana.