On Steve Earle’s Seattle in-store
I’ve been trying all morning (and part of last night) to upload a video from Steve Earle’s performance at Easy Street Records here in Seattle yesterday, but my connection is apparently a tad bit too wonky for such activities. So, instead, I’ll use my words.
I arrived at Easy Street in lovely lower Queen Anne about an hour early, figuring there’d be a line because it was Steve Earle and it was free. There was no such thing, so I went and got coffee, called my sister. Suddenly, the flocks arrived, so I poured in with them around 5:15. By 5:45 the place was packed to the point where my neighbors and I were accepting our sure and obvious death by fire should one break out.
Earle sang more than he talked, held off until about halfway through his 50-minute set before pulling out “Pancho and Lefty,” and then moved into what could be considered the Townes Van Zandt portion of the show (he was, after all, there to promote Townes, which releases everywhere today and is more than worth whatever cash you may drop on the thing, as has been widely discussed on this site). He also delivered a nice rendition of Van Zandt’s “Rex’s Blues” which flowed right into his own “Fort Worth Blues.” This all came after a turn on “Rich Man’s War” early in the set which, for me, was a surprising inclusion. It’s interesting what artists are doing now with the songs they wrote to speak out against the Bush Administration. Steve noted that, just because the guy who started the Iraq War is out of office, doesn’t mean we need to stop holding our leaders accountable. A fair point, indeed.
It’s hard for even me to believe, but this was my first time catching Earle live. Sandwiched in between racks at the north end of the record store (James Dean’s greatest hits on vinyl, Best of the Stray Cats on CD – didn’t know they had more than two hits), I was also surrounded by folks who admittedly didn’t know much about Steve or Townes. I’m well aware neither of them have been household names, but their influence is certainly echoic and noteworthy. I was glad to be able to witness my neighbors’ unexpected and unfurling interest in both. Here’s hoping they turn back out in October when, after performing at Hardly Strictly Bluegrass in San Francisco with the Bluegrass Dukes, he’ll be back in Seattle for a solo show people will have to pay to see.