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An outlaw through and through

Steve Earle and The Dukes
The Rialto Theatre
Tucson, AZ
August 8, 2017
Steve Earle Steve Earle Steve Earle

Review and photos by Frances Sealy

Steve Earle and The Dukes were channeling the soul of Waylon Jennings for their new album and tour, So You Wannabe An Outlaw. Earle tends to push the political buttons of the times, but he didn't push raise any hot issues with this show. However, the subject of immigration did arise. Texas songwriters were the common thread for the evening.

It is easy to label Earle's music as Americana. It is a mixture of Country Rockabilly, Blues, Celtic, and Rock. The band's sound is geared toward the early outlaw movement. Earle's band, The Dukes, includes pedal steel player, Ricky Jackson who reminds us that country is well represented in the outlaw sound. Kelley Looney added an ever-present bass sound that was very prevalent in Waylon Jennings band. Chris Masterson played his guitars with the grit and passion created by the country outlaws. Eleanor Whitmore's vocals were pristine as well as her fiddle playing. Brad Pemberton's rock drumming was a replica of the driving sound of Jennings back in the day.

Earle spoke of his nurturing relationship with Texas songwriter, Guy Clark. His introduction and tribute to Clark revealed much about Earle's past history. "I dropped out of school at 17. As I traveled around Texas I met Townes Van Zandt and I followed him around Texas for a couple of years. I went to Nashville and met Guy Clark. Guy taught me a lot of stuff. I never used some of it. He told me and Rodney Crowell not to use a co-writer or a rhyme dictionary. We did both. We went out and bought a rhyme dictionary and a thesaurus. We lost Guy and everybody misses him. We were teenagers when we went to Nashville and Guy embraced us. Guy was sick for a long time. I saw him as much as I could the last year. I went back to Nashville and we had a wake after Guy's death. About 60 people showed up. A lot of them were young writers that I had never met. We played a lot of songs and cried a bit. When it was over, some of us got on a tour bus and traveled with his ashes to Santa Fe. We were headed there because Terry Allen had agreed to incorporate Clark's ashes into a bronze sculpture. We arrived in New Mexico and had another wake and cried some more. I returned to Nashville and wrote "Goodbye Michelangelo."

Earle carries on the work of the original outlaws of country music. It's obvious that his friendships over the years are life-long and he holds them close to his heart. He came out to the lobby after the show for a meet and greet. He mentioned that Waylon Jennings wore a bandana around his wrist to remind everyone that Earle was in prison. Jennings did that until Earle was released. Earle's songs and stories are successful because there is no doubt that he tells the truth. The tour and the album, So You Wannabe An Outlaw, is a commemoration of those friends who have passed on.
Set List:
1. So You Wannabe an Outlaw
2. Lookin' for a Woman
3. The Firebreak Line
4. Walkin' in LA
5. Sunset Highway
6. News From Colorado
7. Guitar Town (Steve Earle song)
8. I'm Still in Love With You (Steve Earle and The Del McCoury Band cover)
9. You're the Best Lover That I Ever Had
10. Goodbye Michelangelo
10. Jerusalem (Steve Earle song)
11. City of Immigrants (Steve Earle song)
12. You Broke My Heart
13. The Galway Girl (Steve Earle song)

14. Little Emperor (Steve Earle song)
15. Acquainted With the Wind
16. Copperhead Road (Steve Earle song)
17. Taneytown (Steve Earle song)
18. Hard Core Troubadour (Steve Earle song)
19. Transcendental Blues (Steve Earle song)
20. The Week of Living Dangerously
21. If Mama Coulda Seen Me
22. Fixin' to Die
23. Hey Joe

24.Ain't No God in Mexico (Billy Joe Shaver cover)
25. Better Off Alone
26. The Girl on the Mountain

Related articles:

Steve Earle & The Dukes (& Duchesses) with The Masterson - Concert review - Tucson, AZ October 2013

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