“This is probably the last show we’ll ever play some of these songs.”
Steve Earle and the Dukes brought the finale of their 30th anniversary tour of “Copperhead Road” to OKC’s Tower Theatre last week. Honestly, one almost got the impression that Earle is glad to be shelving some of this material again. Though, I also got the impression he’s had fun re-discovering some of those deeper cuts as well. Regardless, it was a fun, well received performance. One can’t blame the band for showing a bit of road weariness, with the holidays just around the corner, they all had to be itching to get back to their familiar places and faces. So while it was apparent that they were a bit worn out, they still gave it their all to make sure it was an enjoyable show.
“Copperhead Road” was a significant release for Earle back in 1988. It was his third album, and his ‘Dylan at Newport’ moment; his first ‘rock’ record so to speak. Throughout the performance of the album, and as he saw fit, Earle provided commentary between songs. This ranged from the differences in side one and side two of the record, to meeting “Born On the Fourth of July author Ron Kovic, which inspired the title track. While most in the audience seemed quite familiar with the material on side one, the expected reception to side two even drew a remark and explanation from Earle a couple of songs in. He explained these songs were the ones “wives listened to while their husbands went hunting or worked on cars”. These songs were and are quite a contrast from side one. Softer, and more personal songs. Love songs, I guess for lack of a better term. While these songs may not have been as big of hits as the title track, and “Devil’s Right Hand”, there are certainly some songwriting gems to be heard. “Waiting on You” and “Once You Love” were highlights that I was certainly happy to have finally heard live.
With the album out of the way, Earle and the Dukes returned to a more traditional setlist for the remainder of the evening. Despite having played the Tower Theatre almost exactly a year ago, much of the setlist remained largely unchanged. Though well played, many in the audience around me were grumbling a bit about the similarity. “Girl on the Mountain”, “Firebreak Line” were represented, as well as those ‘must play’ tracks like “My Old Friend the Blues” and “Guitar Town” Yet, I heard more than a few clamoring for “Valentine’s Day”, “Transcendental Blues” or even “Christmas in Washington”. Perhaps those lucky enough to catch Earle’s upcoming solo acoustic tour will be able to catch those, but they weren’t in the cards this night.
Earle also took an extended opportunity between songs to discuss his upcoming projects. Discussing a “current politically inspired” album seemed to draw quite mixed reactions as seems to be the norm these days. But regardless of one’s political leanings, for those that took the opportunity to listen, Earle offered up quite a bit more optimism and hope than I would have expected. Despite what he referred to as “timing a release”, he indicated that album is somewhat on the back burner. It seems Earle is focusing his energy on a March 2019 release of an album of Guy Clark songs. Commenting, “I don’t want to have to face that motherf*#cker having done an album of Townes songs and not one of his.”
The comment and news of a Guy Clark album certainly brought a smile to my face, and was one of the definite highlights of my evening.
As mentioned, Steve Earle will be hitting the road again in January for a solo acoustic tour.
More information on that tour and his upcoming album releases can be found here: http://www.steveearle.com/
Doing double duty this evening was a pair of the hardest working musicians on the road. Comprised of husband and wife, Chris Masterson and Eleanor Whitmore, they are collectively known as The Mastersons. Following their highly entertaining set each night, they go on to join Earle as members of the Dukes. But, their own set of material is the standout here. Highlighting their newest Red House Records release, “Transient Lullaby”, to say that they are a pure joy to witness would be an understatement. Their previous stop at the Tower saw Whitmore handling the majority of vocals as Masterson was ill and without much of a voice. Not the case on this night. Hearing their harmonies along with the exquisite musicianship was just as I said. A joy to witness. This was my third time seeing The Mastersons in a support role. I really hope to catch them again soon, in a headlining role, as to hear them with more time to stretch things out. I highly recommend any opportunity to see them big or small. Don’t miss it.
Find out more information on The Mastersons here: http://www.themastersonsmusic.com/