(NORTH ADAMS, Mass.) – Alt-country icon and political singer-songwriter Steve Earle will make a return engagement in the Hunter Center at MASS MoCA on Saturday, February 7, 2015, at 8pm. Earle, who will be performing solo on the eve of the release of “Terraplane,” his new album of swampy, southern-stomp blues, is a multiple Grammy Award-winner.
The now-legendary Earle has always done what he wanted: he taught himself guitar at the age of 11, and at age 14 attempted to run away from home to follow his musical idol, Townes Van Zandt. Two years later, he dropped out of high school and moved to Houston with his 19-year old uncle, where he finally met Van Zandt, eventually becoming his protégé.
Earle released his first full-length album, “Guitar Town,” in 1986, when he was 31. The record shot to the top of the charts, powered by the hit single, “Copperhead Road,” and the phrase “new country” was coined to describe the unchartered waters Earle’s music explored. His blend of rock, folk, and country was unlike anything anyone had heard before, and quickly became his trademark sound. Success continued through 1990, when he released a compilation of early tracks, an album on which he collaborated with his future backing band, The Dukes, and a solo album, all of which were quickly swaddled in popular buzz and critical acclaim.
By the early 1990s, however, Earle’s struggles with addiction began to take a toll on his career, and he took a hiatus from music; it wasn’t until 1994 that he began writing again. It would be a 1994 in-house album produced by his former manager that would set the stage for his comeback, as Earle used his trials and tribulations with the law, politics, love, and addiction to fuel his powerhouse songwriting.
Now just as renowned as his role model, Townes Van Zandt, Steve Earle is a vaunted singer-songwriter who is considered a founding father of alt-country and contemporary folk-rock. He’s a protest singer in the tradition of Woody Guthrie and a rock legend in the tradition of Keith Richards. His songs have been covered and recorded by the likes of Carl Perkins, Emmylou Harris, and Johnny Cash. His genre-bending, standard-setting music and lyrics have inspired a new generation of musicians, including his son, Justin Townes Earle, whose middle name is, of course, dad’s nod to his own musical idol.
Fresh salads, hearty sandwiches, and burritos the size of your head – as well as thematic dinner specials – are available from Lickety Split before and during the show. A full bar serves Berkshire Brewing Company beers and Berkshire Mountain Distillery spirits. Tickets are $22 for students, $22 in advance, $28 day-of, and $36 for preferred seating. Members receive a 10% discount. Tickets for all events are available through the MASS MoCA box office located on Marshall Street in North Adams, open 11am – 5pm Wednesdays through Mondays; closed Tuesdays through spring 2015. Tickets can also be charged by phone by calling 413.662.2111 during box office hours or purchased on-line at MASS MoCA.