By Tad Dickens
As of this year, singer and songwriter Steve Earle has made albums covering music from two key mentors, Townes Van Zandt and Guy Clark. “Townes” came first, in 2009, 22 years after its inspiration died. Of necessity, “Guy” has followed, though in shorter order.
“I knew when Guy died [in 2016] that I’d have to make a record, because I don’t want to run into [him] on the other side having made Townes’s record and not made his,” Earle told The New Yorker’s Amanda Petrusich in a story published in March. “I don’t even know whether I believe in that, you know, but I am not taking any chances.”
Such tributes haven’t meant that Earle’s own creative well is running shallow. He has dropped four albums, five if you count a collaboration with Shawn Colvin, since then, and he wrote almost every cut on every one by himself. The most recent of them, “So You Wannabe an Outlaw,” was his 17th. It spent a week at No. 15 on the Billboard country albums chart and received largely positive reviews.
Earle on Friday returns to Rocky Mount’s Harvester Performance Center. It will be his third stop there. He played a solo show there in January 2017. He brought his backing band, The Dukes, with him in May 2018, on tour for the 30th anniversary of his biggest commercial success to date, “Copperhead Road.”