Since the last time I saw him, Justin Townes Earle has had quite a lot happen. In the past ten months, he has seen the release of his third LP, Harlem River Blues, was arrested in conjunction with an incident after an in-store performance in Indianapolis, suspended his tour, and checked into rehab. Having taken to the road again, putting his relapse behind him, he stopped by The Parish this past Saturday evening.
This time around it seemed as though the show was perhaps a bit more subdued than his February show inside at Stubb's. The songs seemed to have been slowed down a bit, and it took a bit longer for him to get into his groove in the banter department, but the show was still great. Once he got a few songs under his belt, he addressed what it felt like the whole crowd was wondering about: Rehab. Now I'll have to paraphrase here because it's been way too long*, but Earle said that he loved cocaine and alcohol but that he wasn't any good at doing either. It was a direct way to deal with the issue, but successfully diffused any tension regarding the issue with laughter.
*I wanted to write this when I got back that night but didn't get around to it. This is both good and bad, as the video embedded throughout the post surely wasn't up when I would have written this had I been concerned with timeliness, but now I can't quote what he said exactly. Or maybe I can...
Now as for the rest of the show, it was pretty great. Not only did he own the material from his own growing catalog, but he covered Townes, Lightnin' Hopkins, "Union Square" by Tom Waits, and closed the set (if memory serves me correctly) with "Can't Hardly Wait," but the moment that set the show apart from most was his transcendent a capella rendition of "Louisiana 1927" seen below. See for yourself and tell me you're not convinced.
To me, there may not be a burgeoning artist on the scene that has me more excited for their future than Justin Townes Earle. Yes, he's released three LPs and an EP, but all of this output has come since 2007. His show on Saturday was fantastic to be sure, but there was more than that. It held promise and gave me hope that Justin Townes Earle can continue to best his demons and deliver albums and shows that mean as much to me as the ones he has done over these brief few years.
Note: I do feel like this post owes a great debt to The Triggerman over at Saving Country Music, whose videos from the show at The Parish give this entry life. His review of the show is also glowing and should absolutely be read.