Jazz Fest Weekly Artist Spotlight: Justin Townes Earle

Image via rollogrady.com

Each week we’ll be spotlighting a new artist appearing at the 2011 New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, offering a little background, an essential track or two, some video, and scheduling information about their performance at the Fairgrounds, so check in with us here every Friday to learn about some of the artists that will be gracing the stages come Springtime. Our first artist spotlight is on (son of Steve), a rising star in the Americana universe with the talent and sytlistic range to have already caught a lot of people’s attention outside of the niche market. Also, both Justin and his dad made appearances on season one of HBO’s , giving Justin a little closer connection to the city and hopefully providing an excuse for frequent return visits after .

It’s rare that an artist has both the desire and ability to create new music that sounds like it could have been made decades ago ( is also on the short list of Americana folk singers who also fits into that mold). Justin Townes Earle’s highly-acclaimed newest album has received high praise from a broad array of sources, garnering 4 stars from Rolling Stone, “Best of 2010” recognition from NPR, and high marks from the discerning customers on Amazon. He was also recognized by the Americana Music Association as the Emerging Artist of the Year in 2009. Earle’s latest LP is a timeless record, delivered by a well-traveled and learned troubadour who has lived at least three lifetimes beyond his 29 years. After all the high praise, it’s clear that the people have spoken and Justin Townes Earle has undoubtedly rocketed out of his father’s tall shadow. Earle appears poised, sober, and ready to forge his own path in the American songwriting tradition. He’s made great records before Harlem, but this one finds the songwriter hitting his stride and finding his sound. A move from Nashville up to Brooklyn naturally lent itself into the album’s title and thematic makeup. The lyrical content on Harlem continues in the Americana/Country tradition of singing about topics like blue-collar work, and the railroad in “Workin for the MTA”, while exploring more common themes like religion and finding a righteous woman (“Christchurch Woman”). The album’s opening track “Harlem River Blues” (available for free on Justin’s home page) has stuck in my head for a week straight, an upbeat and undeniably catchy song about Earle’s baptismal rebirth he experienced moving up to the big city. His knack for the art of crafting metaphysical conceits is arguably innate and engrained into his being as the son of one America’s greatest songwriters, but Justin is building his own legacy, and at 29, he’s still got a lot of stories to tell.

Earle will be appearing on opening day of Jazz Fest, Friday, April 29th, his set time and stage are TBA. For commentary on the rest of the 2011 lineup, we’ve got you covered.

Justin Townes Earle – “Harlem River Blues” Live On Letterman (featuring Jason Isbell (formerly of the Drive-By Truckers)

Paul Shaffer — “That was great! Very rootsy.” Ha.

January 28, 2011 |  by  |  Jazz Fest, Previews
About the author

Wesley grew up in coastal Georgia and is a former resident of The Music City and The Big Easy where he helped get LMB NOLA off-the-ground after launching in January 2011. Over the past few years, he has also contributed steadily to JamBase and Relix Magazine. Recently, Hodges moved on to L.A. where Abita Beer is hard to find, costs about $6 if located and impromptu parading in the streets will most likely get you arrested on the spot.

 
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