Justin Townes Earle

Justin Townes Earle sitting with Gianluca

Justin Townes Earle sitting with Gianluca

“You’d have to be deaf dumb and blind and then you probably still have a chance of this city influencing you,” says tall, lanky songwriter Justin Townes Earle about New York City, his new adopted home. We are in an apartment about a block from his and -appropriately for someone who describes himself as an American music preservationist – around the corner where Leadbelly lived in the forties.
It’s only been a couple of years since Justin Townes Earle and this correspondent first discussed his life and music as well as his background – He’s Steve Earle’s son, songwriter Stacey Earle’s nephew and is named after his father’s mentor Townes Van Zandt. His debut CD, The Good Life, had just been released and we were talking backstage before Justin was about to play a 160 capacity venue people of which maybe a half might have been paying customers. A lot’s happened in the two years since. He picked up a Best Emerging Artist award from the Americana Music Association, and has seen his star rise from strength to strength with his third CD – ‘Harlem River Blues’ – receiving accolades and five star reviews across the board. The 160 seater half-filled room has now been replaced by 1400 seaters.
Though much has changed, much is the same. The easy confidence and low-key demeanor has remained though the clothes are decidedly alternative new yorker. Shoulder-length straggly hair has won over the short gelled hair from when he still lived in Nashville. Back in 2008 he had been four years sober and drug free. This particular day he is four weeks sober. He had barely started his tour last year when he was arrested for battery, public drunkenness, and resisting arrest after a show in Minneapolis and returned to rehab to clean up again. We get this out of the way at the very beginning.

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