Justin Townes Earle

SXSW showcase reviews

Justin Townes Earle

Red Eyed Fly, March 21

Justin Townes Earle tried to start his set with "They Killed John Henry" but forgot the words and gave up. It was the last misstep of the evening. Earle's a natural performer, and accompanied only by banjo and mandolin from Cory Younts, he offered effortlessly perfect renditions of his own songs, country standards from Woody Guthrie and the Carter Family, and the Replacements' "Can't Hardly Wait." The crowd even coaxed an encore from him, Earle obliging with standard "Hesitation Blues" and covering both the rhythm and solo at the same time. A tall man, Earle positions the microphone so that he has to hunch over to sing. Coupled with his extremely thin frame and tradition-minded aesthetic choices, this gives him the air of a bent but spry old man. The corners of Earle's mouth pull up naturally, so he wears something between a grin and a smirk; even on "Walk Out," his scowl fades after only one verse. He mugs and bows relentlessly, and it's tempting to wonder if he's actually that happy or it's all just an act. Whatever the case, Earle's impossibly beautiful vocals on "Mama's Eyes" brought the audience to ecstasy. You can't argue with results.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for over 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

Saturday Showcases
Saturday Showcases

March 20, 2015

Friday Showcases
Friday Showcases
Korea, Japan, Spain, Africa – see the world from single showcases

March 20, 2015

More Music Reviews
Hot Summer Nights Reviews: Choux Choux, Norman Ba$e, El Combo Oscuro, Billy Glitter
Hot Summer Nights Reviews
Free music fest cools out record hot summer

Kevin Curtin, Aug. 12, 2022

Jack White Swings for the Fences at Austin Sandlot
Jack White Swings for the Fences at Austin Sandlot
Singer/guitarist/first baseman hits home run in post-arena show baseball game

Kevin Curtin, June 3, 2022

More by Daniel Mee
Texas Platters
Black Cock
Robot Child With a God Complex (Record Review)

April 17, 2009

Live Shots
Dirty Projectors
SXSW showcase reviews

March 20, 2009


Justin Townes Earle, Earle, Justin Townes

One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

Eric Goodman's Austin FC column, other soccer news

Behind the scenes at The Austin Chronicle

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle