By Jeremy Hallock
By James Khubiar
By Observer Staff
By Kelly Dearmore
By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
As if being the son of legendary alt-country godfather Steve Earle wasn't pressure enough, young singer-songwriter Justin Townes Earle also bears the name of the late, great Townes Van Zandt.
Incredibly, the younger Earle takes it all in stride: "I've seen both my dad and Townes passed out in a pile of their own puke," he says over the phone from his apartment in New York City. "The pressure could be there, but I've never let it get to me."
That self-confidence has resulted in three acclaimed albums, culminating in 2009's Midnight at the Movies. By far his best effort, Movies has brought the singer the kind of critical praise his father is used to. With a keen eye for detail, original songs such as "Mama's Eyes" and the title track tackle intimate relationships from a variety of fascinating angles. And in what could surely be considered a stroke of genius, Earle covers The Replacements' "Can't Hardly Wait" and turns the song into a mandolin-fueled, hillbilly gem that nearly outshines the original.
"I've always loved that song, even though Replacements fans have always hated it because it had horns and stings on it," Earle says. "It's always tough when you take on a songwriter like Paul Westerberg, someone who people love."
Thankfully, Earle did take it on, just as he seems willing to take on just about anything. Just like his old man.
Headlining this show is Kentucky's raspy-voiced Chris Knight.