Friday, October 1, 2010

Pssst: The new voice and face of Americana

Justin Townes Earle should've been at the Rio Theatre in Santa Cruz tonight, followed by a date tomorrow at the Depot at Humboldt State.  Instead he's got a date with his demons.

Here is the note that was posted last week on his website:

Justin Townes Earle has decided to suspend the remaining dates on his tour and enter a rehabilitation facility. Earle is strongly committed to confronting his on-going struggle with addiction and thanks his family, friends and fans for their continued support through this difficult time.

That's a helluva note. Any momentum he may have gained touring in support of his terrific new album Harlem River Blues is stalled by an issue not unfamiliar to his family.  The apple, as they say, never falls far from the tree.

The son of Steve Earle has emerged from his father's shadow as an artist -- no easy feat -- but confronting the demons of addiction is a whole different dirty deal.  We have as a reference the unvarnished view of JTE's daddy from Lauren St. John's book Hardcore Troubadour: The Life and Near Death of Steve Earle.  The father, a notorious drug abuser, was able to pull himself out of a much steeper and frightening tailspin.  We can only hope the son, now 28, gets it together before his life becomes nip and tuck. 

So we'll hope while we listen to that album of great new songs. It has never been easy to describe Americana music, but with Harlem River Blues -- released just two weeks ago -- a more precise definition emerges.  It's the music of Justin Townes Earle, a spiritual and deeply effecting journey through urban minefields and life's challenging moments.  Make no mistake, Steve Earle is the artist's father but Woody Guthrie is his hero.

Lord, I'm goin' uptown to the Harlem River to drown

Dirty water gonna cover me over and I'm not gonna make a sound

Meanwhile you can cross off next Saturday's show at First Avenue in Minneapolis and forget about his appearance here at Turner Hall in Milwaukee the following week. In all 21 dates in the U.S. and another 10 in the UK have been scrapped.  What a lousy, miserable deal for everyone, but especially for Justin Townes Earle.

Harlem River Blues goes up now on the PSSST (Personal Six String Sancutary Tout) board.


  1. Not only his dad but his namesake ...

    Steve Earle had a recurring role on "The Wire" as a guy named Waylon who was in Narcotics Anonymous and tried to help one of the main characters get clean.

    I wish the young man well. This is more important than his career.

  2. Damn, that sucks. Hope he beats this. Can't think of JTE without this song. At his heartfelt best.