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home : arts & entertainment : arts & entertainment September 20, 2017

9/5/2017 12:16:00 PM
Justin Townes Earle hits Sisters
Justin Townes Earle performs at Sisters Folk Festival next weekend. photo provided
+ click to enlarge
Justin Townes Earle performs at Sisters Folk Festival next weekend. photo provided

By Ceili Cornelius

Justin Townes Earle is an American songwriter originally from South Nashville, Tennessee. He is the son of alternative country artist Steve Earle, and his middle name honors after his father's mentor, Townes Van Zandt.

Earle describes his music as "country-soul with a lot of elements of old-style blues." He has been playing for over 20 years, after dropping out of school to tour and play music with other musicians in Tennessee. He played in two bands, The Distributors and bluegrass band The Swindlers. He then released his own EP, "Yuma," in 2007, and has been doing his own music ever since. He has released four full-length albums since then.

"A lot of my inspiration comes from the music of the '50s, from people such as Lightnin' Hopkins," Earle told The Nugget. "I grew up listening to a lot of blues and swing music from the '50s and '60s." said Earle.

Earle and his family now live in Portland, and enjoy being on the West Coast.

"I try to stay away from the trendy new scene of Portland. But there's a lot of good food here and it's nice and quiet and a good place to be to have a family as a homebase," said Earle about the "Portlandia scene."

This is not Earle's first folk festival. "I've played thousands of them, but never Sisters," Earle said.

His most recent album, "Kids in the Streets" was released about six months ago. When asked about his inspiration behind the album, he answered with an underlying nostalgia: "I'm at the point in my life where I am now a 'grown up,' and everything is changing around us. For each generation of kids, the pace of things changing is much faster than the one before, and they have to realize that things will never be the same. The kids and generations to come have to realize that the only sure thing in this world is change."

The album encapsulates kids in the streets growing up and realizing that everyone at some point will have their lives change.

Kids in the Streets contains a full band behind Earle's songwriting adding a swing-bluesy feel to the album, especially in the tune "Champagne Corolla."

"It depends on where I am at, but I sometimes travel with the full band, but I always travel with at least a guitar player behind me. Most festivals I play with the full band," said Earle.

He has been touring for a couple months with his new album and has just come off a break in touring.

"I'll be touring this album for another eight months and then take some time off and start writing again in the new year," said Earle.

The Sisters Folk Festival runs September 8-10. For more information visit

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