Recently at Americana UK Towers we set up the cine projector and had our weekly ‘film night’ where we come together as one and enjoy a movie. We had a high old time each with their bottle of over strength spirit in one hand and vegan snack of meadow grass flavoured chickpea crisps in the other. It was truly remarkable – holding hands and disavowing the existence of an interventionist god as a precursor to the main event, smelling each other’s hands to check for ‘that’ hand sanitizer aroma and knowing therefore that we were free from virus spreading guilt and promising to love one another regardless of what we had said about our fellows via private messaging in the preceding days of the week. Continue reading “Pick of the Political Pops: Steve Earle “Amerika v6.0 (The Best We Can Do)””
One of the few silver linings of the current situation is that you get to go to festivals you wouldn’t normally be able to attend, albeit virtually, and in that spirit San Fransisco’s Bay Area’s beloved Hardly Strictly Bluegrass is launching its new global and community-driven initiative Let the Music Play On to bring the spirit of Hardly Strictly Bluegrass to backyards and living rooms all over the world with a global broadcast taking place the weekend of October 2nd. And what a broadcast – the artists announced so far includes Emmylou Harris, Buddy Miller, Steve Earle & the Halfgrass Dukes (feat. Tim O’Brien and Dennis Crouch), The War and Treaty, Amythyst Kiah, Chuck Prophet, Patty Griffin, Birds of Chicago, Los Coast, Shakey Graves, Alison Brown, John Doe, Aaron Lee Tasjan, Yola and Sierra Ferrell. Continue reading “Hardly Strictly Bluegrass to hold online festival featuring Emmylou and more”
Steve Earle has announced a new album of covers of songs written by his son, the late Justin Townes Earle who died last month at the age of 38. Steve Earle and the Dukes plan to record the album next month, with a release scheduled for January 2021 to coincide with what would have been Justin’s 39th birthday. Continue reading “Steve Earle to cover son Justin’s songs on new album”
Justin Townes Earle’s death at the age of 38 on 23rd August was announced on his social media without any confirmation of the cause of death. There has been considerable interest in the mainstream media with speculation that his was a drug-related death, due to his well-publicised struggles with alcohol and chemical dependencies. It will be another tragedy if he is largely remembered for his addictions and early death given the quality of his songwriting and music that will be his true legacy. Continue reading “The Song Remains: Justin Townes Earle 1982 – 2020”
Another week, another… some form of currency that begins with W. (Wonga?) Hope it’s been a good one for you. If you can tear yourself away from Taylor Swift’s surprise new album for 5 minutes (which contains some gems like this track) we leave you this week dear reader with a collaboration between americana greats Buddy & Julie Miller, Nashville gospel music quartet The McCrary Sisters and Steve Earle himself – as Julie Miller told The Bluegrass Situation: “Our Black brothers and sisters have suffered so long. Their dehumanizing journey began 400 years ago. They lived lives of slaves and now of being distrusted by the law of the land, treated as ‘lesser than,’ been in danger from the stranger, danger from the law. Parents’ hearts are so worried, distraught, and broken. So much suffering and sorrow, discrimination, dehumanization, and hurt, and disappointment. This should all hurt our hearts too. It will if we have one. A beautiful revelation has been jump-started in the middle of a pandemic, no less. This is my song of solidarity. And it’s my heart crying with their hearts. Let the revolution live.” Amen to that revolution. Have a good one.
There’s a really interesting feature courtesy of the New Yorker when journalist Amanda Petrusich speaks to Steve Earle and Lucinda Williams together but remotely, chatting to them about “songwriting, the legacy of Bob Dylan, the cruelty of online comments, protest music, poetry, compassion, and their decades-long friendship.” They also perform some new songs. You can watch the clip (because we can’t embed it here sorry) over at the New Yorker’s website here.
A tribute album featuring Steve Earle, Lucinda Williams and Beachwood Sparks among others was announced yesterday along with details of a new Neal Casal Music Foundation (NCMF) which has been created “to honour the memory of the late great, multi-dimensional artist through an ongoing series of charitable endeavors.” The initial focus of the foundation is to provide instruments and lessons to students in New Jersey and New York state schools where Casal was born and raised, as well as to make donations to mental health organizations that support musicians in need. NCMF is being spearheaded by Neal’s longtime manager Gary Waldman along with a team of Casal’s friends. Continue reading “Neal Casal Foundation and tribute album announced”
Another crazy week then in which even the notoriously conservative with a small ‘C’ county music industry is dealing with its complicated history – so we leave you dear reader with a new recording of a song by an artist you could use a lot of words to describe, one of them not being “conservative”. Last Friday, Steve Earle went back into the studio to give us a preview of a new song by way of a stripped-down version. The lo-fi recording, with Earle unaccompanied on acoustic guitar, was originally supposed to be part of a new full-length album before ‘The Ghosts of West Virginia’ came along in its place. As Earle comments: “This is a song I wrote for a moment at the beginning of the Trumpian nightmare that I planned on releasing closer to the election, but I reckon its time has come today.” 144 days and counting folks [fingers crossed emoji]. Have a good one.
Steve Earle was a tough choice for this slot. On the one hand, what can you write about him that has not already been well documented? On the other hand, how can you omit one of its prime movers from an A-Z of Americana? To try and get a different perspective on the man, I’ve decided to write from a personal perspective; me and Steve Earle if you like. Continue reading “AmericanA to Z: Steve Earle”
There’s nothing like a cause to get Steve Earle all fired up so when he was approached to write a set of songs for a theatre production about 29 miners killed in a coal dust explosion in Raleigh County, West Virginia in 2010, it must have seemed like grist to the mill. The play, ‘Coal Country’, written by Jessica Blank and Erik Jensen, featured Earle on stage throughout with his songs delivered solo in a “Greek chorus” format. There were seven songs in all and Earle has reworked them with The Dukes for ‘Ghosts Of West Virginia’, adding three related songs to flesh out the running time. Continue reading “Steve Earle & The Dukes “Ghosts Of West Virginia” (New West Records, 2020)”