Justin Townes Earle
Justin Townes Earle is an anomaly. He's tall as the day is long, all angles and elbows and a hard stare, both welcoming and deadly serious. He's Nashville North, all set up in lower Manhattan now, just like his hero Woody Guthrie, with twang and charm intact.
That hard working earnestness has paid off, to say the least. Justin won Best New and Emerging Artist at the 2009 Americana Music Awards. His record, Midnight at the Movies, was names one of the best records of last year by Amazon, received four stars in Rolling Stone, and found a sweet spot in the blackened hearts of fans and critics alike. GQ Magazine named him one of the 25 best dressed men in the world in 2010. He also appeared on HBO's Treme with his dad, troubadour Steve Earle, on whose Grammy Award-winning Townes record Justin also guests.
The aforementioned Woody Guthrie once said, "Any fool can make it simple." On Harlem River Blues, Justin chose the simple route. The record's not a wall of sound produced to the rafters. It's rockin' and reelin' at times, sweet and slow at others-and it's great. Like good fried chicken, a well-cut suit and a handmade guitar, there's heaven to be found in the beautifully crafted simpler things.
Compared to the much-lauded Midnight at the Movies, Harlem river Blues is more mature and increasingly nuanced, while still embracing the raw voice and clean sound of previous standout tracks like "Mama's Eyes." Harlem River Blues kicks off hot with the title track's choir of backing singers and electric guitar, slow dances through a decrepit tenement on "One More Night in Brooklyn," and swings a la Jerry Lee Lewis on "Move Over Mama." "Working for the MTA" is a modern day railway ballad, embracing the labor movement in classic folk singer style over some heatbreaking pedal steel from Calexico's Paul Niehaus. With percussive guitar, killer standup bass lines by Bryn Davies and a guest appearance from Jason Isbell, this record hums along like a 6 train jumpin' the tracks and heading straight for the Tennessee state line.
Harlem River Blues straddles not only the Mason-Dixon, but time itself. As versed in Mance Lipscomb as he is in M. Ward and sporting Marc Jacobs suspenders, Justin Townes Earle is a man beyond eras. With Harlem River Blues, a record that's perfect for late Indian summer nights on either the front porch or the fire escape, Justin's found yet another way to be a timeless original.
The 20-year old from Kent, Ohio first performed with her family band One Way Rider at the age of eight. At age 15, she recorded her first album White Lies in her brother's bedroom, printing only 100 copies. One of those copies fell into the hands of Dan Auerbach (The Black Keys). After an introduction, Mayfield and Auerbach hit the studio, laying the foundation for her debut album With Blasphemy So Heartfelt.
The album was produced by Auerbach and recorded over a two-year span in his home studio in Akron. Says Auerbach of the recording experience, "I think she's dark and moody in a mysterious way." He adds, "I'm just always really excited to make music with her." Pitchfork gave the album a rating of 8.2, calling it "fascinating and endlessly listenable."
Already in her young career, Jessica has opened numerous shows for The Black Keys, The Avett Brothers, Band of Horses, Ray LaMontagne, and CAKE. Jessica is currently working on her second full-length album, which is also being produced by Auerbach.
High Noon Saloon
701A. E. Washington Ave.
Madison, WI 53703
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