On a cold but dry autumn evening in Glasgow, a Thursday if I recall correctly, a few hardy souls gathered in a tiny bar basement in Glasgow to see a show billed as The Sons Of The Guns, featuring two artists, both the offspring of well-known fathers. Jubal Lee Young’s dad was Steve Young, writer of ‘Seven Bridges Road’, while Justin Townes Earle’s pop was, of course, Steve. Despite this pedigree, both acts were relatively unknown at the time, hence the small venue and, presumably, the lack of punters.
Jubal Lee Young had recently released an album which I had reviewed for AUK and he was kind enough to contact me, letting me know that he was touring Europe and inviting me to come to one of the shows. And so it was that I was there rather early, having a chance to chat to him and his sparring partner for the night, Justin, of whom I knew little other than who his dad was. Tall, slim (some might say undernourished) and with a hangdog expression, he was warm and effusive as he and Jubal set up for the show. Taking some time out for a smoke out in the street he told me about the last time he had been in Glasgow when he was playing guitar in The Dukes at the infamous Barrowlands. Before the show he’d gone to one of the local pubs and was knocked out by the raucous crowd, most of them bedecked in Celtic football regalia and singing at the top of their lungs. He was even more knocked out when it transpired that they weren’t going to a football match but were getting liquored up for the gig. The gig tonight was certainly going to be a much more sedate affair.
Just before the show started, the doors banged open as a half dozen or so guys barged in having driven down from Perth. This posse included the legendary Thomson brothers who ran Goldrush Records and who had been the prime instigators in bringing the likes of Townes Van Zandt, John Stewart, Guy Clark and, of course, Steve Young, to Scotland back in the 1980s. Larger than life and diehard fans (and by now family friends with the Young family), the Thomson’s and their cohort certainly brightened up the cellar as Jubal first, and then Justin, sang their songs.
Jubal was quite fiery with a political bent to several of his songs. He railed against corporate greed and sang a fine song about the still glowing embers of the civil war. In contrast, Justin’s songs were in the main quite intimate and personal. He was quite open about his own issues including addictions and his relationship with his father. At this point he had just released his debut recording, the six song EP ‘Yuma’ which none of us gathered had heard, but his Loudon Wainwright like delivery, his superb guitar and animated stage presence were quite stunning. Apologies here to Jubal, but my original review of the show concluded that “Earle in particular is one to watch.”
Of course, Justin Townes Earle more than delivered on that early promise and when I heard of his tragic death last year, my thoughts went back to that night when a select few of us were privileged enough to be there. I went home with a copy of ‘Yuma’, which, sadly, I hadn’t thought to ask him to sign.
>>> Please help to support the running costs of Americana UK, run by a dedicated team in our spare time, by donating £2 a month to us - we'll send you an exclusive 20 track curated playlist every month plus the opportunity to win our monthly giveaway. Click here for more information.