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Justin Townes Earle at The Ark, 3 Things To Know

By Gary Graff
ggraff@digitalfirstmedia.com, @GraffonMusic on Twi

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It’s been 10 years since Justin Townes Earle released his debut recording, “Yuma.” And during the interim he’s been as prolific as his father, Steve Earle.

The Nashville-born Earle, now 35 and a resident of Portland, has released seven albums, including the upcoming (May 26) “Kids In The Street.” A punk rocker as a youth, he spent time playing in his father’s band, the Dukes, before starting his own career. He won his first won Americana Music Award in 2009 as New And Emerging Artist of the Year and he’s also appeared in the HBO series “Treme.”

And as if having “Kids” isn’t enough, Earle and his wife are also expecting their first child this summer...

• “Kids In The Street” marks the first time Earle has recorded outside of Nashville, working with producer Mike Mogis (Bright Eyes, First Aid Kit) in Omaha, Neb. “When you grow up with Nashville musicians and all the people there, it’s hard to think about making a record anywhere else,” Earle explains “The first thing that drew me (to Mogis) was the fact he had mixed M. Ward’s ‘Hold Time’ record and he also recorded Jenny Lewis’ ‘Rabbit Fur Coat’ record; Those were just amazing sounding records, and he has great ideas. I mean, nobody in Nashville would’ve said, ‘Let’s put a bajo sexto on this song;’ They would’ve tried to copy it with a guitar and something else and complicated it.”

• The impending birth of his child, due in July, had an impact on Earle’s songwriting for “Kids...” “These songs were definitely from somebody who’s more clearheaded and married, for sure,” Earle acknowledges. “I think that I do see things from a more calm and lucid perspective these days, and that has a lot to do with my wife. We’ll see what the kid does to (the music). This record was written and in the can when we found out she was pregnant. I was actually in the studio when I found out; I was just kind of, ‘Holy s***, I’m gonna have a kid’ and blanked out the rest of the night.”

• One subject the new songs does touch on is gentrification, which Earle saw happening in his native Nashville and beyond. “Touring for the past 20 years has shown me gentrification happens everywhere,” Earle says. “It’s something everybody’s going through, and it’s displacing people everywhere. Nashville seemed to get a really acute taste of it; Nowhere else have I seen them, like, just trip down historic buildings like they do. They change the names of neighborhoods. I want to write it so it doesn’t sound like this rally against the future. One thing that’s for sure is (stuff) changes. But it doesn’t have to completely disregard the past.”

If You Go:

• Justin Townes Earle and the Sadies

• 8 p.m. Wednesday, May 17.

• The Ark, 316 S. Main St., Ann Arbor

• Tickets are $35.

• Call 734-761-1818 or visit theark.org.

Web Site: www.theark.org

Send your thoughts and comments to Gary Graff


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