Before, I only knew of Justin Townes Earle through his unsavory blowup back in Indianapolis last year. His opening slot for the Decemberists at the Pageant changed things quickly.
Don’t know who JTE is? Don’t worry; I’m in no place to judge so here’s a quick primer to help.
1. Son of country/rock/folk singer Steve Earle.
2. Named after country/folk singer Townes Van Zandt
JTE’s set was an extremely simple affair with fiddler Josh Hedley only occasionally on stage to add some strings. For most of the brief performance, it was solely Earle’s commanding voice and his acoustic guitar taking hold of the audience’s attention. Hearing the plucking and vocals whirl through the huge space of the Pageant gave me the chills at time.
Photography notes: Dim, but very consistent lighting. I’ve been looking for an opportunity to experiment more with shutter speed and the simplicity of Earle’s set allowed me to play around without really feeling the contraint of a 3-song limit. Actually, I found myself taking shooting breaks during the 3-songs to just soak up Earle’s tunes.
–I picked up Harlem River Blues the day after was really surprised how much instrumentation the songs had. It really made me appreciate the guitar-only set we got even more.
-Earle’s guitar work is interestingly detailed. I kept looking at his fingers, trying to figure out how he was producing such a rich sound.
-Having now seen pictures of his earlier albums, I dig his current glasses/facial hair look. Definitely makes him look more older.
-He turned out to be a pretty funny guy too, relaying a few short stories in between songs (the one about getting whupped by his mom’s flat shoes being the most memorable).