LIVE REVIEW: Justin Townes Earle @ The Autry Museum, Griffith Park 2/25

February 28. 2011 | By Sharon Payne

Justin Townes Earle @ Autry Museum 2/25/11

Justin Townes Earle played the Autry Museum in Griffith Park on Friday night to a sold-out crowd. His self-deprecating humor and Tennessee drawl charmed the crowd, while setting the tone for the night. The son of country rocker, Steve Earle, who has had a public battle with substance abuse and addiction, Justin Townes openly discussed with the audience that he had inherited more than just his musical talent from his father.

Justin Townes Earle @ Autry Museum 2/25/11

Three days after the release of his most recent full-length album, Harlem River Blues, on September 16, 2010, the younger Earle was arrested for battery, public drunkenness and resisting arrest. He then returned to rehab, delaying his promotional tour. Throughout the set, he joked about his “little problem with chemical dependency and incarceration,” and how he likes “most things in excess…and that goes for alcohol and cocaine.”

Justin Townes Earle @ Autry Museum 2/25/11

Earle’s music contains brutally honest lyrics paired with traditional rhythm and bluegrass harmonies. The set was full of Americana, country and blues originals that were good, but seemed like they were played with a half-hearted attempt to entertain the crowd and get through the show. Many of the songs started off upbeat but became sluggish by the end of the first verse. Earle made repeated mention of a migraine headache that he was suffering from, which likely contributed to the lackluster set. There’s no doubt that Earle and his backup band (Josh Hedley-fiddle, Bryn Davies-upright bass) have the potential to put on a great show, all three are clearly talented and sound great together.

Although the Autry was a perfect venue for showcasing indie country music, it seemed like an “off” night for Earle. Regardless, the audience still appeared appreciative of the chance to see the troubled singer-songwriter live… considering Earle’s good looks, country charm and bad-boy reputation it was hard not to fall for him, just a little bit.

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