JUSTIN TOWNES EARLE
On a rainy Nashville Thursday last October, Justin Townes Earle leapt onstage at the famed Ryman Auditorium to accept the 2011 Americana Music Award for Song of the Year. The triumphant evening capped a turbulent twelve months for the gifted young musician categorized by significant hardship as well as notable achievement including debut performances at New York’s Carnegie Hall and on The Late Show with David Letterman. Just one week later, Earle retreated to the western mountains of North Carolina to record his next album, Nothing’s Gonna Change the Way You Feel About Me Now (out March 27, 2012 via Bloodshot Records) – an intriguing title given the importance of change in Earle’s approach to art. “I think it’s the job of the artist to be in transition and constantly learning more,” he says. “The new record is completely different than my last one, Harlem River Blues. This time I’ve gone in a Memphis-soul direction.”
Since his debut in 2008, Earle has toured consistently including performances at the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Fest, the Grand Ole Opry, Carnegie Hall, the Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival and the Newport Folk Festival as well as recent appearances on The Late Show with David Letterman and A Prairie Home Companion. Additionally, Earle won “Best New and Emerging Artist” at the 2009 Americana Music Awards and was named by GQ magazine as one of “The 25 Most Stylish Men in the World” in 2010. He also appeared on HBO’s Treme with his dad, troubadour Steve Earle, on whose Grammy Award-winning record Townes, Earle also guests. With inspirations as diverse as Townes Van Zandt (he was named in honor of the elder Earle’s hero), Jimmy Reed, Kurt Cobain, The Replacements, Mance Lipscomb, Ray Charles and The Pogues, Justin forged his own brand of American roots music. Going through life with a namesake of Van Zandt’s stature cannot be easy for a young songwriter, but Earle takes it in stride,” saying, “Anyone who tries to live up to Van Zandt is a fool. I’m honored to carry the name, but if I spent my life trying to live up to it, I’d have a pretty miserable life.”
The Great Despiser, the new album from celebrated singer-songwriter Joe Pug, is out now on Lightning Rod Records. Released to widespread critical acclaim, the Austin Chronicle praises, “…his songwriting continues to hone down a basic emotional reality,” while the UTNE Reader asserts, “If you don’t know up-and-coming singer-songwriter Joe Pug yet, that’s about to change with his second release.” In celebration of the album, Pug is currently in the midst of a nationwide headlining tour, including dates at Chicago’s Lincoln Hall and New York’s Bowery Ballroom.