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Steve Earle - Riffs and Licks
Steve Earle

Steve Earle
Originally uploaded by kenf225
I saw Steve Earle at Town Hall last night, in a mostly solo acoustic show. He came out and began strumming the very recognizable (to this audience, anyway) introduction to Bob Dylan's "Baby Let Me Follow You Down," and started talking.

"I used to be a folksinger, because I had trouble with authority of any kind," he said. "Then I found out there were folksinging authorities, and I had to give it up."

He flouted any number of authorities, starting of course with his political songs. He said people have asked him whether he's worried that the songs about the Iraq war on his two most recent albums will become dated. "God, I hope so," he said. Halfway through his set, he brought out a DJ, who played and scratched beats behind him as he played old-time banjo.

He played a mixture of songs from his new album, Washington Square Serenade, and albums going all the way back to Guitar Town.

Allison Moorer, to whom Earle got married last year, opened the show and sang a few duets with him at the end. He returned for encores including "Hardcore Troubador," which one audience member was particularly insistent about requesting ("Steve, please play it or I won't get laid tonight," the lout's girlfriend shouted at one point, leaving Earle speechless for the only time that night), and closing with "Chrismastime In Washington."
6 comments or Leave a comment
rubytramp From: rubytramp Date: September 27th, 2007 03:26 pm (UTC) (Link)
Thanks sounds like a good Steve appearance. Except for that idiot at the end.
rednoodlealien From: rednoodlealien Date: September 28th, 2007 02:05 am (UTC) (Link)
I can hear the intro to "Baby Let Me Follow You Down" quite clearly ("I first heard this from uh Rick Von Schmidt...")
harrietbrown From: harrietbrown Date: September 28th, 2007 10:05 am (UTC) (Link)
How did you get interested in folk and bluegrass? Has it been a lifelong fascination, or is it recent? Just curious, because you write about it so intelligently.

Sounds like a fun concert. No concert is complete until an idiot appears. There's always one. It's a universal law.
steelbrassnwood From: steelbrassnwood Date: September 28th, 2007 02:38 pm (UTC) (Link)
It's relatively recent; I grew up saying I "hated country music," meaning all that crap on the Nashville Network. But I always loved Johnny Cash which should have been a clue, and I became a huge Bob Dylan fan in high school and only later realized that he was following (very closely) in the footsteps of lots of older players. I always loved the music, but I was just plain ignorant, having grown up listening to apartheid rock radio and thinking that's all there was to the world.

The harmonica really broke it open for me and got me listening to all kinds of music, starting with blues. I liked the acoustic stuff best of all, so that led me back to older and older players, all the way back to the string- and jug-band era in the 20s, before the record industry had really formalized the racial divisions in music. So I went backwards via blues, and came forward via country through Jimmy Rodgers and the Carter Family, and realized how wonderful traditional country and all its relatives are.
harrietbrown From: harrietbrown Date: September 29th, 2007 01:58 am (UTC) (Link)
Very interesting. It sounds like you did your own music history fact finding. You must have an extensive recording collection (that's right, I remember, over 27,000 songs on iTunes!) What were your sources when you went searching for this music? And who are Jimmy Rodgers and the Carter Family?
steelbrassnwood From: steelbrassnwood Date: September 29th, 2007 05:43 pm (UTC) (Link)
Actually, as of this morning, 32,440.

And, well, Jimmie Rodgers was the Singing Brakeman, one of the first big recording artists in country music. Folks like Bob Dylan learned a huge amount from him, both songs and performance style. And the Carter Family? Put it this way, when Johnny Cash married June Carter, he wasn't the famous half of that marriage. He was the kid who married into the Carter Family. June's mother, Maybelle, and her cousin Sarah, and Sarah's husband AP, recorded hundreds of songs in the 20s and 30s, and either wrote or popularized songs like "Keep On the Sunny Side," "Bury Me Under the Weeping Willow," "Wabash Cannonball," "Will the Circle Be Unbroken" and many many many more. There are few guitarists in country or blues (or rock) who don't owe something to Maybelle's style.

So those two artists created a lot of the foundation for what we think of as country music today; the only other person who was as critical would probably be Hank Williams. And a lot of people think commercial country music has been going downhill ever since.
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