Ramblin’ Rhodes: Justin Townes Earle brings Americana sound to Imperial

Justin Townes Earle will perform Friday, Nov. 3, at the Imperial Theatre. JOSHUA BLACK WILKINS/SPECIAL

Americana music artist Justin Townes Earle, son of singer-songwriter Steve Earle (Guitar Town) and namesake of the late Townes Van Zandt (Pancho &Lefty), is heading this way for the Morris Museum of Art’s bluegrass series.

 

Earle performs at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Nov. 3, at the Imperial Theatre for the Budweiser True Music Southern Soul &Song concert before a concert Saturday night at the popular Pourhouse nightclub in Charleston, S.C.

Tickets are $28, $23 and $15 and can be bought at imperiatheatre.com, at the box office at 745 Broad St. or reserved by calling (706) 722-8341.

Earle, making his first appearance in the Morris series, has been receiving rave reviews nationwide for his seventh album Kids in the Street, which was released last May.

Marissa R. Moss, writing in Rolling Stone magazine, noted that it “approaches blues influences with equal parts reverence for its history and a playfulness that guarantees its relevance in the future.”

Jewly Hight, writing for the National Public Radio site npr.org, calls it his “most pleasing and playful effort to date.

“He’s cultivated an easeful way of balancing down-home and urban, modern and vintage, role-inhabiting and autobiographical sensibilities,” she added.

Previous acclaimed albums of Earle’s have been recorded in his native city of Nashville, Tenn., but this one was produced in Omaha, Neb., with noted independent album producer Mike Mogis.

Although Earle grew up with friends who were into punk rock music and was influenced by his famous father’s friends and musical tastes, Earle said his artistic life changed when he came across the rock band Nirvana’s MTV Unplugged in New York album.

One cut, a cover of Where Did You Sleep Last Night popularized by the late Louisiana blues legend Leadbelly in the 1940s, particularly caught Earle’s attention.

Earle told Tim McDonnell writing for Mother Jones magazine in 2011, “That’s when my whole world just, whoosh, I mean everything changed for me. That’s when I knew I could do this. Before, I kind of questioned whether I spoke the right language or had the right credentials in order to do it. But then I figured out that those guys talked just like I did, you know?”

Meanwhile in regard to the Morris Museum of Art series, Executive Director Kevin Grogan reports that the band The Boxcars scheduled for January broke up a few days ago.

But he already has booked in its place The Lonesome River Band, another popular bluegrass group that last performed for the Morris series in 2005.

Alumni of The Lonesome River Band include Kenny Smith, just at the Imperial with Morris series artist Becky Buller, and also LRB member Ronnie Bowman, co-composer of Brooks &Dunn’s song It’s Getting Better All The Time and Kenny Chesney’s Never Wanted Nothing More.

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RAMBLIN’ RHODES 47TH ANNIVERsARY: Well, friends and neighbors, thanks to your kind interest and continued good wishes, I have come to another anniversary marking the debut of this weekly music column.

It first appeared in the Saturday afternoon edition of the Savannah (Ga.) Evening Press on Oct. 31, 1970; moved up with me to the Saturday edition of the Augusta Herald in late 1971 and moved into the Sunday edition of the combined Herald and The Chronicle in late 1972.

It has been online with augustachronicle.com since December 1996 with my column about the death of entertainer Tiny Tim (Herbert Khaury).

Country music historian Robert K. Oermann, then music writer for The Tennessean newspaper in Nashville, in 1982 declared it to be the “longest running country music column in the nation.”

Best I can tell from googling, it also now has to be one of the longest running columns of any kind in a daily newspaper.

So, here’s a Ramblin’ salute to you wonderful, faithful readers out there who have made this journalistic venture so memorable and worthwhile.

And a special thanks, of course, goes to the “newcomers” who made their first media appearances in this column including the band Alabama, The Judds, Joe Diffie, Ronnie Dunn and a long list of others.

concerts ahead

  • CSRA Veterans Day Tribute Concert: 3-11 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 11, Lady Antebellum Pavilion, Evans, with Amanda Pollard, 3 p.m.; Rachel Lynn, 4 p.m.; Beth Spangler, 5 p.m.; Jordan Brower, 6 p.m.; Johnny Rodriguez, 7 p.m.; Shooter Jennings (son of Waylon Jennings and Jessi Colter), 8 p.m.; freshtix.com and Security Federal Bank locations; $50, $35 and $20; kids 12 and younger free
  • Ray On My Mind: 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 11, Burke County High School, Waynesboro, Ga.; tribute to the late Georgia-born superstar Ray Charles featuring Kenny Brawner; vsit burkeconcert.org or (706) 437-0070
  • Steep Canyon Rangers: 8 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 16, Newberry (S.C.) Opera House; $50, $45, $35; newberryoperahouse.com or (803) 276-6264
 

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