In My Ohio

On Justin Townes Earle in Concert and What That Means

(Kyle Gustafson/FTWP)
Darren C. Demaree
This past Sunday, at the Bluestone in Columbus, my wife and I went to see Justin Townes Earle. We got a babysitter. We got there before the opening band (Americana Aquarium) had even begun to play. We sat outside and planned out this week in reference to work (no classes for me on Thursday), the children (Belle started pre-K on Tuesday and some ideas for Thomas’ birthday party), and we were trying to figure out how best to get the kids to a birthday party when we go to Knoxville for a poetry workshop I’m teaching at the end of the month. We sipped on cokes to avoid falling asleep before Earle began to play, and when the music finally elevated to concert levels, we stood in the back to enjoy it.
The last time I went to a Justin Townes Earle show was four years ago. I had two children then as well, AltOhio and Isabelle. I met my great friend, Oz (no relation to the wizard), at a bar before the event. We got to the venue between bands, and since there was a mix-up with the list, I had to call my contact to get in. My contact at that point was Justin Townes Earle, who was an incredibly sweet guy, and he made sure we got in to cover the show. Oz and I drank some more, we watched Earle put on a great show from the balcony, and after a while we headed back to the bar to talk music and movies (I’d like to think that was one of the nights we were able to do the entire diner scene from the Deniro/Pacino classic “Heat”), and after a few more beers it was time for me to head back home.
The next morning I was tired from the short sleep and the cheap Pabst drafts from the night before. I had given one-year-old Belle my cell phone to amuse her. It had a lock on it, so nobody could use it without knowing how to disable to security measure. Surely I had my bought myself ten minutes to make some coffee and some breakfast. Nope. I could hear Belle getting really excited in the living room, and as I approached her I saw the screen was lit up. She had managed to dial the last phone number I had called. Once I had the phone in my hand I saw that little Belle had phoned Justin Townes Earle with what must have been way too early of a wake up call. I hung up quickly, before she could manage to roust the sleeping musician, and I brought her into the kitchen to eat with me.
This past Sunday as we enjoyed some of the old Earle songs, and mostly the new tracks from his new album “Single Mothers”, I moved slowly, back and forth. Mostly, I moved with the beautiful songs, but I also enjoyed reliving the last four years. I appreciated the two, very distinct markers of the different shows and the different experiences.
I like the idea of waiting another four years to see Earle perform again. He’ll have put out a few new albums, and I imagine I will be unrecognizable again. It will be tremendous to touch base with one of my musical cornerstones, and if I spend the whole show drifting in and out of the actual music, that will be okay, too. Just like I take my wife to see William Elliot Whitmore every time she is pregnant, I think I will take her to see Earle every time I feel older and completely new at the same time. Change and beautiful change, that’s what Earle does best, and I think my own rhythms have begun to sync with that quite well. I’m already excited about the next show.