Steve Earle gives "Townes" the tribute treatment
Monday, March 9, 2009
– Townes Van Zandt was always one of Steve Earle's greatest influences, and now the singer will give him the tribute treatment. Earle will release "Townes" on May 12th via New West Records. The 15-song set is comprised of songs written by Van Zandt. "Townes" will also be available as a deluxe 2-CD set, as well as double Limited Edition 180 gram vinyl.
The album was produced by Earle at his home in Greenwich Village, at Sound Emporium and Room and Board in Nashville and The Nest in Hollywood. The track Lungs, was produced and mixed by the Dust Brothers' John King and features Tom Morello of Rage Against the Machine/The Nightwatchman/Street Sweeper on electric guitar. Earle's wife, Allison Moorer, is featured on backing vocals on Loretta and To Live Is To Fly. Three songs cut in Nashville, White Freightliner Blues, Delta Momma Blues and Don't Take It Too Bad feature a bluegrass band consisting of Dennis Crouch, Tim O'Brien, Darrel Scott and Shad Cobb.
Earle met Van Zandt in 1972 at one of Earle's performances at The Old Quarter in Houston. Van Zandt was in the audience and playfully heckled Earle throughout the performance to play the song Wabash Cannonball. Earle admitted that he didn't know how to play the tune and Van Zandt replied incredibly, "You call yourself a folksinger and you don't know Wabash Cannonball?" Earle then silenced him by playing the Van Zandt song Mr. Mudd and Mr. Gold, not an easy feat due to its quickly-paced mouthful of lyrics squeezed into just over two minutes of song. On Townes, Earle and his son, singer-songwriter Justin Townes Earle (named after Van Zandt) trade verses on the tune, a song the two of them have been playing together since Justin was a teenager.
The songs selected for Townes were the ones that meant the most to Earle and the ones he personally connected to (not including selections featured on previous Earle albums). Some of the selections chosen were songs that Earle has played his entire career (Pancho and Lefty, Lungs, White Freightliner Blues) and others he had to learn specifically for recording. He learned the song (Quicksilver Daydreams of) Maria directly from Van Zandt, and taught himself Marie and Rake specifically for the album's recording. Once a song he played during his live show, Earle relearned Colorado Girl in the original Open D tuning that Van Zandt played it in. Earle recorded the New York sessions solo and then added the other instruments later on in order to preserve the spirit of Van Zandt's original solo performances to the best of his recollection.
Van Zandt's debut album, "For The Sake Of The Song," was released in 1968. His last, "No Deeper Blue," appeared in 1995. His life and songs are the subject of a 2006 documentary film, "Be Here To Love Me." Van Zandt died in 1997 at 52.
1. Pancho and Lefty
2. White Freightliner Blues
3. Colorado Girl
4. Where I Lead Me
6. No Place To Fall
8. Brand New Companion
10. Delta Momma Blues
12. Don't Take It Too Bad
13. Mr. Mudd and Mr. Gold
14. (Quicksilver Daydreams Of) Maria
15. To Live Is To Fly
Earle will be touring in support of "Townes" with tour dates announced shortly.
The Warner Bros Years
On the surface, this five-disc box set appears to be another egregious exercise in major label money-grubbing, a study on how to squeeze every last penny out of those precious (and paid-for) catalogs. After all, what self-respecting fan of Steve Earle doesn't own "Train A' Comin'," "I Feel Alright" and "El Corazon" in at least four or five formats (including the hard-to-find mini-disc version)?
That said, it's kind of cool to have all three »»»
The Low Highway
If you're a forever smitten fan of Steve Earle who's always looking forward to his next record, you'll likely be satisfied with "The Low Highway." It's a 12-song collection of strong songs, all stamped with his signature sound.
The title cut is a beautiful, world-weary ballad that narrates a trip along the highways and byways of America. Over a gently rocking beat, Earle crosses paths with empty houses, hungry people and broken factories, a bleak picture that belies »»»
Sunshine Boy The Unheard Studio Sessions & Demos 1971-1972
When one thinks about the music of the late, great Townes Van Zandt, it is easy to presume it is primarily in the context of the stark, downer nature of his songs, a pivotal turning point in the direction of American country music that has inspired everyone from Lyle Lovett and Steve Earle to such renowned heavy metal acts as Neurosis and Scott "Wino" Weinrich.
It is a style the Texas icon had woven from his twin loves for both the Depression era hillbilly country of Dock Boggs and »»»
Editorial: Walking the talk
When names like Hank Williams, Johnny Cash, Waylon and the Hag are invoked, you're talking hard core country. These are the touchstones of country , the guys who made country music what it was and still is (or maybe can be). When these folks would sing about being down-and-out and the rough-and-tumble, they knew of what they were singing about. Fast forward a few years to the country singers of today. »»»
Concert Review: All for the Hall: thanks to Harris, Gill, no ordinary guitar pull
This all-star benefit concert for the Country Music Hall Of Fame may have been likened to a Nashville living room guitar pull, but this was certainly no ordinary guitar pull. The evening's acoustic show featured Vince Gill, Emmylou Harris Jason Mraz and Heart. It amounted to a wonderful evening of stories and songs.
Although actress Rita Wilson... »»»
Concert Review: Lone Star Staters fortunately go beyond state lines
The idea of a Boston/Austin connection about friendships has developed over the years, but somehow it didn't seem to apply to country music.
But with the Randy Rogers Band, Wade Bowen, Stoney Larue and the Josh Abbott Band heading up from Texas (okay, not necessarily Austin) on the so-called Four on the Floor trek for two weeks, this was a rare... »»»
Country News Digest
Elsewhere in the news
Currently at the CST blogs
To take a page from Judy Collins' notebook, Lydia Loveless has seen life from both sides now. After a childhood in tiny Coshocton, Ohio, a move to Columbus and a gig playing bass in her family's new wave/rock band as a teenager, Loveless set out on her own musical path at the age of 17. In 2010, the 20-year-old Loveless released her debut album, "The Only Man," which was critically acclaimed but just barely heard by the general public.... »»»
Mary Chapin Carpenter's songs have always transcended the mundane, whether through the introspective songs about life and death on albums like "The Age of Miracles" or "The Calling" or in the humorous ways she laughs at fate in songs such as I Feel Lucky
or The Bug
in order to show the chinks in our mortal facades. Her music has often helped us get beyond ourselves to see the places where real meaning lies, whether we decide to embrace such meaning or not.... »»»
It's the Voice. Rhonda Vincent has been wrapping her soaring, golden-throated vocals around bluegrass tunes for a couple of decades now. The International Bluegrass Association named her Female Vocalist of the Year seven years running (2000-2006), and named her IBMA Entertained of the Year in 2001. From 2002-2006, Vincent carried home the Entertainer of the Year award from The Society for the Preservation of Bluegrass (SPBGMA). Early in her career, Vincent also recorded a couple of country albums, before returning to bluegrass. Yet, it was always her voice that gave every project its power, beauty, and character.... »»»
It would be easy perhaps even tempting - to label Alabama's Drive By Truckers as simply a rowdy and rambunctious country rock outfit that goes all out to make their insurgent sound heard. Not surprisingly, it was their landmark opus, "Southern Rock Opera," an album detailing the exploits of a fictional '70s Dixie-bred outfit called "Betamax Guillotine," that helped solidify both their sound and reputation. »»»
Change was in store for Dierks Bentley when it came to recording his seventh album, "Riser." On the personal front, he lost his father and added to his family, clearly affecting the subject matter of his latest. On the musical front, he traded long-time producer Brett Beavers, producer of every disc except "Up on the Ridge," for Ross Copperman. »»»
Will Kimbrough's been around a long time, with his early band Will & the Bushmen signed to a short-lived major label contract and his tenure in the Bis-Quits with Tommy Womack a notable footnote, but despite extensive credits as an artist he's still mostly lauded for his production, songwriting and sideman roles for others including Todd Snider and Jimmy Buffett. »»»
It's almost as if Cole Swindell's producer told him to concentrate hard and picture himself performing before a sold out stadium crowd when he wrote these songs because nearly everything on the artist's self-titled album is an anthem - little is subtle or left to the imagination. Whether he's giving a great, big shout out to the crowd with "Hey Y'all" or giving his girl a quiet squeeze from the cheap seats on "Swayin'," »»»
Eric Church looks to take no prisoners on his big and bold - sometimes very dark - sounding fourth studio release. He makes that crystal clear on the cover where he stands flanked by his backing quintet, looking tough, menacing, ready for a rumble with arms hanging down, hiding behind sunglasses. These guys are ready to roll. As in rock and roll, which Church et al cook up with the lead-off title track, an out-and-out rocker with Church laying down his outside the lines credentials. »»»
Thanks to Mumford & Sons and their ilk, acoustic-guitar-strummed roots rock is suddenly in vogue again. Jamestown Revival is the latest in a continuing string of artists that, although relatively brand new (age-wise), hearken back to musical styles long before their time. »»»