Justin Townes Earle – Tickets – The Casbah – San Diego – San Diego, CA – October 29th, 2019

Justin Townes Earle

Casbah presents

Justin Townes Earle

Johnny Two Bags

Tue, October 29, 2019

Doors: 8:30 pm / Show: 9:30 pm

The Casbah - San Diego

San Diego, CA


This event is 21 and over

Justin Townes Earle
Justin Townes Earle
Justin Townes Earle has done a lot of living in his 37 years. For starters, there’s the quick-hit
bullet points about his childhood that seem to get dredged up in every interview, article or
review about the singer-songwriter and guitarist: Born the son of Steve Earle, who was largely
absent during Justin’s childhood; struggles from a young age with addiction and numerous
stints in rehab; long stretches of itinerancy and general juvenile delinquency; a youth he once
said he was “lucky to have gotten out of alive.”
That’s before we get to the years spent honing his craft in Nashville bars and on club stages all
over the world; the various bands, record labels and industry types that have been drawn toward
and, at times, pushed away by him; and, finally, the celebrated and rather formidable body of
work he has amassed since releasing his critically-acclaimed 2007 debut EP, Yuma .
It’s a seemingly bottomless well of material for a singer-songwriter to mine out of just three
decades or so of life. And Earle at times has—most recently on his 2017 album, Kids in the
Street , which the artist calls “one of the more personal records I’ve ever made.”
But when it came to his newest effort, The Saint of Lost Causes , Earle, these days sober, married
and father to a baby girl, chose to focus his gaze outward. “Maybe having a kid has made me look
at the world around me more,” he says.
As for how he felt after doing that?
“Frankly, I was horrified,” he says bluntly. Although, he adds, “I already sorta was, anyway.”
Make no mistake: there’s nary a party, PBR or pickup truck to be found in any of the 12 tracks on
The Saint of Lost Causes . Rather, Earle is focused on a different America—the disenfranchised
and the downtrodden, the oppressed and the oppressors, the hopeful and the hopeless. There’s
the drugstore-cowboy-turned-cop-killer praying for forgiveness (“Appalachian Nightmare”) and
the common Michiganders persevering through economic and industrial devastation (“Flint City
Shake It”); the stuck mother dreaming of a better life on the right side of the California tracks
(“Over Alameda”) and the Cuban man in New York City weighed down by a world of regret (“Ahi
Esta Mi Nina”); the “used up” soul desperate to get to New Orleans (“Ain’t Got No Money”) and
the “sons of bitches” in West Virginia poisoning the land and sea (“Don’t Drink the Water”).
These are individuals and communities in every corner of the country, struggling through the
ordinary—and sometimes extraordinary—circumstances of everyday life.
“I was trying to look through the eyes of America,” Earle says. “Because I believe in the idea of
America—that everybody's welcome here and has the right to be here.”
Earle tells these American stories in detail and without judgement. But he also lays out his point
of view right from the start. The Saint of Lost Causes kicks off in stark fashion with the title
track, on which JTE, over a desolate soundscape of acoustic guitar, deliberate snare hits and
moaning pedal steel, presents a harsh vision of the world in plainspoken, almost biblical terms:
"Got your sheep / got your shepherds / got your wolves amongst men,” he intones, before
asking, “Throughout time / between the wolf and the shepherd / who do you think has killed
more sheep?”
“That's kind of like the spooky leftist conspiracy theorist in me,” Earle says with a slight laugh,
before turning serious. “But the fact is, if you look around, we live in a time where one of the
number-one threats to an inner-city black youth is a police officer. It’s just bizarre. So I think
sometimes how we forget how animal we are. We look at ourselves as this sort of
higher-functioning being, but we miss the mark quite often at being civilized and such.”
He points to another track, the slide-guitar-and-harmonica assisted “Don’t Drink the Water”
(“Folks gettin’ sick, talkin’ women and children / ask the man on the stand what he thinks killed
‘em”), as a further example of man’s disregard for his fellow man. “Several years ago one of [ coal
CEO and former Republican primary candidate for Senate ] Don Blankenship's companies
leaked a bunch of chemicals into the river outside of Charleston, West Virginia, and there’s still
areas where if people take a bath they’ll get lesions on their skin,” he explains of the song’s
subject matter. “We live in the richest per-capita country in the world, and we have people who
can't bathe in the fucking water. Much less drink it.”
While that song and others like “Flint City Shake It”—where, over a boogie-woogie rhythm, Earle
chronicles the decline of the city’s once vibrant auto manufacturing industry (“Then trouble
come in ’86 / this son of a bitch named Roger Smith / cut our throat with the stroke of a
fountain pen”)—cite historical events, other tracks present fictionalized narratives that are no
less harrowing or true-to-life.
Take the haunting “Appalachian Nightmare,” on which Earle spins a first-person account of how
a landscape of little opportunity combined with a few bad decisions can quickly lead to a
premature, and literal, dead end. “It's a fictional story, but it's a story we've heard a million
times growing up in the South,” he says. “I remember back in the late Nineties we had what they
called the ‘Oxycontin Wars,’ which was, like, hillbillies armed to the teeth r
Johnny Two Bags
Johnny Two Bags
Venue Information:
The Casbah - San Diego
2501 Kettner Blvd.
San Diego, CA, 92101