Wednesday, February 3, 2010

"PRESERVATION" Preview #15: Appearing with the Preservation Hall Jazz Band on their upcoming benefit album - MR. STEVE EARLE!

February 16, 2010 - PRESERVATION: an album benefiting Preservation Hall & The Preservation Hall Music Outreach Program hits the streets! (Best Mardi Gras Ever?) While we wait with baited breath, we share with you these previews of the 19 amazing tracks and special guests that make this latest offering from the Preservation Hall Jazz Band so very special. In this installment...

Stephen Fain Earle was born on Jan. 17, 1955, in Fort Monroe, Va. He grew up in Schertz, Texas, a community 17 miles north of San Antonio. At the age of 11, Earle got his first guitar and learned to play it quickly enough to take third place in the Schertz school district's annual talent show when he was 13.

At 14, Earle left home for Houston to stay with his 19-year-old uncle, Nick Fain, who encouraged him to continue his guitar playing. Soon after, Earle met hard-living songwriter Townes Van Zandt, who inspired him to make music his career. Earle later said of Van Zandt, "He was a real good teacher and a real bad role model." At 19, Earle moved to Nashville. While struggling to make it in the music industry, the young hopeful paid the bills by doing odd jobs. "I've never had a job longer than three months in my life," he said. "I've always led a bohemian lifestyle. I have framed houses, worked on oil rigs, worked on shrimp boats and in restaurants, but it was different for me because I knew I was always going to get out."

In Nashville, Steve played in various bands to support himself. He made his first recording in 1975 on Guy Clark's Old No. 1 album, playing bass and singing backup on the cut "Desperadoes Waiting for a Train." Earle eventually wrote songs that were recorded by some major artists. His first publishing deal was with Sunbury Dunbar (a division of RCA), where he earned $75 a week as a staff writer. He almost had his song "Mustang Wine" recorded by Elvis Presley, but Presley failed to show up for the scheduled session. The song was later recorded by Carl Perkins. Johnny Lee had a No. 14 hit in 1982 with "When You Fall in Love," a song Earle co-wrote with John Scott Sherrill.

From 1982 to 1985, Earle recorded a series of rockabilly tracks for Epic Records. Two of these charted. "Nothing But You" went to No. 70 in 1983, and "What'll You Do About Me" went to No. 76 the following year. From Epic, Earle moved to MCA Records, where, in 1986, he released the roundly acclaimed Guitar Town. For this work, many critics hailed him as the missing link between the power of rock and the passion of pure hillbilly music. The title track became the highest-charting song of Earle's country career, making it all the way to No. 7 in 1986. In 1987, MCA released Earle's sophomore album, Exit 0. It, too, became an instant favorite of critics. One song, "I Ain't Ever Satisfied," enjoyed some airplay on rock radio, but country radio ignored it. Another single from the album, "Nowhere Road," climbed to No. 20 on the country charts. The album Copperhead Road made its bow in 1988 and demonstrated Earle's growing interest in rock music. MCA targeted the title single to rock radio. Although the album made few waves in the United States, it did build Earle's reputation in England.

In 1990, MCA released the much harder-sounding The Hard Way. It was followed the next year by the live album Shut Up and Die Like an Aviator. This was Earle's last contracted album for MCA. The label declined to renew his contract because of his increasing use of drugs. For the next four years, the singer all but disappeared from the music scene. In 1994, Earle was arrested and sent briefly to prison for possession of narcotics. He was paroled later that year after completing a rehabilitation program. During his break from recording -- a period he called his "vacation in the ghetto," Barbara Behler and Mark Brown, who worked at the Warner/Chappell publishing company, and John Dotson, Earle's former manager, compiled a promotional CD of his songs they titled Uncut Gems. They shopped it around to other recording artists in Nashville, a move that led to Travis Tritt and Stacy Dean Campbell each recording "Sometimes She Forgets" and Robert Earl Keen cutting "Tom Ames' Prayer."

Winter Harvest Records released Earle's folksy, acoustic-oriented collection, Train a Comin', in 1995. Soon after, Earle formed his own label, E-Squared Records. His first album for the new label, I Feel Alright, came out in 1996 and combined elements of country, rock and rockabilly. The next year saw the debut of his El Corazon. Earle tipped his hat to bluegrass music in 1999 when he recorded The Mountain with the Del McCoury Band. In 2000, he released Transcendental Blues, also on E-Squared.

Earle has been an outspoken and tireless opponent of capital punishment. His "Ellis Unit One" is featured on the 1996 soundtrack of the film Dead Man Walking. In recent years, Earle also has written and performed poetry and fiction. He presented excerpts from his works in progress at the 2000 New Yorker Festival and published a short-story anthology Doghouse Roses in 2001. He also stirred up controversy with the song "John Walker's Blues," about John Walker Linde, an American who many considered a traitor for joining the Taliban. The biography Hardcore Troubador: The Life and Death of Steve Earle was published in 2003.SESSION PHOTOS BY ERIKA GOLDRING

"Tain't Nobody's Business"
Steve Earle with The Preservation Hall Jazz Band


Steve Earle - vocals, guitar
Charlie Gabriel - clarinet
Clint Maedgen - tenor sax
Ben Jaffe - banjo
Rickie Monie - piano
Walter Payton - string bass

Steve Earle appears courtesy of New West Records



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