I had the opportunity (thanks to Kurtis and Stu) to head down to Bayfield, Wisconsin to see Steve Earle with the Dukes & Duchesses (featuring Allison Moorer and The Mastersons) on July 22, 2011.
I’ve been a Steve Earle superfan for a long time (well, not as long as our old pal Stu, but most of my music-lovin’ life), and I’ve seen him a whole bunch of times, but this was probably my favourite show of all.
First off, the location was pretty cool. I’d heard about this Big Top in Wisconsin before (first when my friends The Wailin’ Jennys played there, and I met up with them the next day), and I’ve watched the impressive lineup of past artists, always wondering whether I’d get the chance to check it out. The concerts are held in a specially constructed circus tent set us a fully functioning concert venue. It’s set on the side of a ski hill, just south of a tiny town called Bayfied, Wisconsin, which is right on the shore of Lake Superior. A more lovely or inviting little town, you will not find.
Also, Steve is once again promoting a stellar new album, “I’ll Never Get Out of this World Alive.” Again, I’ve been a fan for a long time, but his last couple of albums of his material (I try not to dwell on Townes…) have been his best so far.
Once again, he’s got a strong lineup of Dukes backing him up (now including a duo called The Mastersons) and his lovely wife Allison Moorer (who I’m a fan of on her own.)
Whereas once upon a time, the best advice Steve could follow would have been to NEVER GET MARRIED AGAIN (dude’s been married 7 times now; he once joked that instead of ever getting married again, every could of years he was just going to find a woman and buy her a house and give her half of everything he owned, thus saving himself the trouble of actually getting married,) it seems that Steve has finally found his match, proving that there’s probably someone out there for everyone. Although on the surface, it looks like kind of a Beauty and the Beast scenario, it seems as if both are perfectly happy. In fact, it was only a little over a year ago that they had a son together.
Steve used to be about the most ornery guy around, and I was terrified of him in the past. Now, whenever Allison is around, he’s as sweet as can be. He’s even inviting people to come and chat with him after the show. In the past, Steve would only invite people he wanted to beat up to meet him after the show.
He seems to have come to terms with a lot of wrongs in his past and is humble and appreciative. Sure, I still wouldn’t want to get on his bad side, but he’s pretty tolerant, even of the “Play Copperhead Road!) guy, who seems to come to every show.
And he is playing Copperhead (not even reluctantly), as well as a great selection of classics from his catalogue, which fit in nicely with the strong new songs. He’s even letting his band members step up to the mic and showcase – inviting Allison to do a few songs is a no-brainer, but it was refreshing to hear The Mastersons, and what a surprise to hear longtime bass player Kelly Looney do a song of his own!
Every once in a while, I get inspired to record a show, not because I’m some evil bootlegger looking to make a buck, but because I have a really bad memory, and I like something to remind me of the great shows I’ve seen and heard. My recordings are decidedly low-quality, and not in any way meant to be audiophile recordings, and certainly aren’t meant to take the place of authorized recordings. In fact, I really hope that they inspire you to get out to a show or buy a CD (ok, or a digital download) of your own.
With that in mind, if you want to download this amazing show for yourself, go ahead and enjoy. You don’t need to post it on your site or host it anywhere else, just let other folks know to stop by and visit my site. Don’t ever sell it or do anything bad. Look both ways before you cross the street, too.
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