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Artist Spotlight: Justin Townes Earle

I have been a huge fan of Steve Earle for many years now. I am currently enjoying listening to his recently released album Townes, which is a tribute to Earle's friend and mentor, Townes Van Zandt. This album is not the only thing Earle has named after the late singer-songwriter - his first son, Justin Townes Earle, also bears that name. It is perhaps not too surprising that Justin has chosen to pursue a career in music. When he was a teenager, he made a guest appearance on his father's album El Corazón, playing guitar the rocker "Here I Am". He also appears on Townes, this time singing a duet with his father on "Mr. Mudd & Mr. Gold".

I initially found it rather amusing that Justin appeared on the album "courtesy of Bloodshot Records", but after thinking about it a bit, I think it's great that he is forging his own musical path, rather than just riding on his father's coattails. Justin has released three albums of his own in the last few years, and is currently hosting two free MP3s from the second album, The Good Life. The first one, "Hard Livin'", is a fun country romp, while the second one, "Who Am I to Say", is a beautiful ballad. His Wikipedia page mentions that he has played at South By Southwest for the last 2 years, and a quick trip to the SXSW website yielded a third free MP3: "Midnight at the Movies", the title track from his latest album, which is another beautiful, laid-back country ballad.

Justin has also recently given permission for recordings of his concerts to be distributed via the Live Music Archive. At the time of this writing, there are 21 complete concerts available for download in multiple formats, including MP3, OGG, and FLAC. The sound quality of these recordings is not always perfect, but if you are a fan of live recordings, they are well worth checking out. Right now I am listening to the 2008-12-24 show from The Cactus Cafe in Austin, TX, and it sounds great - the recording is very clear, and the performances are excellent.

For someone who bears the names of not one, but two musical legends, Justin Townes Earle has a lot to live up to; from what I have heard so far, he is doing very well for himself indeed and has a very bright future ahead of him. I'm really looking forward to hearing more from him, and I hope you enjoy this music too. Happy listening!


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