Tuesday, September 21, 2010


The intention of today's column was to do an album review of the brand new Justin Townes Earle album, Harlem River Blues. The Bloodshot records was released on September 14, 2010 and on my first few listens, I can safely say this is a great record. JTE sounds to be in great voice, and you can't miss when you have Jason Isbell on guitar and Bryn Davies supporting with the upright bass. This is a great sounding record with songs that are very well written and very well performed.

However, something caught my eye today that caught me by surprise. Various media outlets have reported that Justin Townes Earle was arrested last Thursday following a disturbance after his show in Indianapolis. According to the media, Earle was heckled by a couple of fans. One of the fans requested a song for Earle to sing, unfortunately it wasn't a JTE song ... it was "Freebird", by Lynyrd Skynyrd. Understandably, Earle became quite upset by this request. The floodgates appeared to be opened at this point, at another fan requested Earle take off his shirt, while another threw their shirt at the stage. The shirt landed on Earle's guitar. According to the media, Earle uttered an expletive to the crowd, left the stage and in a drunken rage, proceed to trash his dressing room. The club's owners called police and JTE was subsequently charged with assault and battery.

Now, all of these are allegations that have yet to be proven in court, so I'm not here to judge Justin Townes Earle. However, if this incident at the Radio Radio club in Indianapolis happened as reported, then there are two things at play here. First and most obvious, JTE could have handled this thing differently. No matter how bad the fans get, a performer has to maintain their cool in some fashion. Nothing is stopping them from cutting the show off early, packing up the van or the bus, and heading to the bar across town for a few drinks with the band and crew. Second and equally important, the fans have to take equal heat on this one. If you're going to spend your money on tickets and booze to see a show, then turn around and heckle and agitate the artist you and countless others have paid to see, why the hell show up? As a fan, you're a disgrace and you drag everybody down around you. I'm sure we've all been there, when we're watching a show, everybody's into it, and some wannabe comedian has to start taking shots at the performer. It kills the vibe in the room every time. So to you fans who think you're funny and the life of the party by heckling the stage, the only advice for you is to either (a) shut up, drink your beer and watch the show; or (b) keep your sorry tail at home. You're not funny. You're a pain in the ass. You kill the room. Stay home.

Sometimes these things need to be said.

Justin Townes Earle will be playing the Horseshoe Tavern in my hometown of Toronto, Ontario Canada on October 15, 2010. I will be there, and I will provide a review of the show in this space. I'm quite looking forward to the show, the Horseshoe is one of the great live music venues in Canada. Tomorrow there will be a special entry to this space. A track by track review of JTE's Harlem River Blues will be here, so please check back tomorrow.

Thanks to everyone who has been reading this blog, it's nice to see there are some of you out there. I've noticed readers from all over the world, from Denmark, to the United States, France and my native Canada. Thanks everyone for reading, it's a great thrill to know you have visited the blog and that you like what you see. Feel free to leave a comment, say hello or send a message to americanareview@gmail.com, especially if there is artist you like that you would like me to write about or an album you would like me to review. And of course, as great a compliment as it is for you to have visited this blog and returned another time, referring this blog to your friends for their enjoyment is equally heartening. Thanks again friends!

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