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Music Feature: King of the Earle

Steve Earle comes to the Theatre at Westbury tonight


Electric Hot Tuna and Steve Earle: Despite this being a seemingly odd bill on the surface, both acts draw inspiration from the Americana lexicon. Jorma Kaukonen and Jack Casady have been the constants in Hot Tuna since the duo started doing it as a side gig in the early ’70s, introducing subsequent generations of fans to the rich canon of traditional American country blues. As for Earle, he’s been an articulate, opinionated and prolific hero of the insurgent country movement, and the left, with his latest album Townes paying homage to the late troubadour Townes Van Zandt. As it stands, Earle also turns out to be quite the Renaissance man, as evidenced by the following.

1. Earle’s father was an air traffic controller and his mother was a virulent anti-death penalty advocate, a cause he continues to embrace.


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2. He’s been married seven times, twice to the same woman, and is currently betrothed to fellow singer-songwriter Allison Moorer, making him Shelby Lynne’s brother in-law.

3. His eldest son Justin Townes Earle is named after his hero Townes Van Zandt.

4. After moving to Nashville in 1975 and getting work as a songwriter thanks to help from fellow Texan Guy Clark, Earle’s song “Mustang Wine” was slated to be cut by Elvis Presley. The King never showed up for the recording session and it was instead recorded by Carl Perkins.

5. Earle did time in the early ’90s on drug and firearms charges. Within 18 months of his release in late 1994, he’d recorded two albums and was nominated for a Best Contemporary Folk Album Grammy award in 1996.

6. In 2001, Earle released Doghouse Roses, a collection of short stories.

7. In 2002, Earle wrote “Karla,” a play about Karla Faye Tucker, a convicted murderer who became the first woman executed by the state of Texas since the Civil War.

8. Earle played a recurring role as recovering drug addict Walon in the HBO series The Wire. More recently, he plays a street musician in the current HBO series Treme.

9. Earle has been the subject of two biographies, Steve Earle: Fearless Heart, Outlaw Poet and Hardcore Troubadour: The Life and Near Death of Steve Earle.

10. After hosting a radio show on the now defunct Air America that ran from August 2004 until June 2007, Earle is DJing a show called Hardcore Troubadour on Sirius Satellite Radio’s Outlaw Country channel.

SAT 7.17

Electric Hot Tuna and Steve Earle @ The Theatre at Westbury
960 Brush Hollow Rd. 7 p.m. $50. 877-598-8497

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