Steve Earle

Steve Earle & The Dukes – Bluesfest Sideshow

With countless years of wowing the crowds at the Byron Bay Bluesfest, Grammy award winning country/blues/folk master Steve Earle is bringing his formidable band The Dukes back to Tanks for a rocking live show on Thursday 24th March. The incomparable pioneer of the Outlaw Country Music movement will remind us why he’s notched up ten top 10 albums and three platinum-selling albums over his amazing career including the iconic ‘Copperhead Road’. Thirty years since the release of the ground breaking ‘Guitar Town’, Steve Earle’s last show at Tanks Arts Centre sold-out in advance and his 2016 return is guaranteed to do the same.

Admittedly I was a little nervous before this interview and after receiving the line through to Steve’s home in New York, I was met with silence and no answer from the other end. Suddenly after a short wait I hear Steve’s bellowing Texan voice down the telephone with a comical apology as the delay was caused by him attending to some fermented cheese he was cooking.

“I’m actually roasting a big pepper and some jalapenos right now so I’m going to make some fermented cheese so it’s good for lunch tomorrow. I meant to do this earlier but my little boy decided to stay up and have a party”. (laughter)

Asking if cooking was a passionate hobby of the Grammy Award winning song writer:

“I like to cook yeah, definitely more over the last few years. My son he likes my pasta; I make a pretty mean bolognaise. I like my chilli and fermented cheese which I’m working on right now”.

With a close affinity with Bluesfest, Steve will be returning for the sixth time to Bryon Bay and will be bringing his long time backing band The Dukes along for the ride. Steve is often quoted as rating Bluesfest as the best festival in the world and it’s no wonder why he returns as often as he can.

“Bryon itself is one of my favourite towns; every dog has a bandana and frisbee in its mouth. It’s my kind of place. It’s my favourite music festival in the world. Generally when I tour Australia I like to do it around Blues Fest because it’s kind of what I have to do to get to Blues Fest. If you see me in Australia, thank Peter Noble because it’s the only way I’m able to get there. He’s the one who makes it possible for us”

This year his good friend Jackson Browne is also on the line up and Steve has hinted of a possible live collaboration on stage at Bluesfest.

“That could totally happen, if myself and Jackson are in the same place we could definitely end up on the same stage together. It always tends to happen. I’m going to be staying the whole weekend after we perform so I hope it does”.

Steve Earle’s and The Dukes last show at Tanks Arts Centre in 2014 was a massive success with rave reviews and a high class performance to a sell-out crowd. There is no doubting his 2016 return is guaranteed to do the same.

“I loved it, you know it’s a strange place with all those tanks sitting out there but don’t get me wrong it sounds good in there! I was surprised. I spent about an hour watching those fruit bats fly over the trees; you don’t see that in New York City! We’ll be doing three Queensland shows and we’ll be playing in Mackay for the first time too. I don’t think it’s any secret that our music is more suited for the North, so we’re looking forward to playing further north than Brisbane”.

It’s hard not to go past Steve Earle’s massive 1988 hit ‘Copperhead Road’, with the just as famous Eighties video clip complete with bandana, mullet, double neck guitars and denim vests. The amount of times this song has been played on jukeboxes around the world must be in the billions with this mega hit praised for its Vietnam inspired lyrics and mix of country, rock and Irish influences.

“I’m grateful you know I’ve got several songs that are still important to people so I’m happy I still got a job. You know Copperhead Road gets played every night and I’m very grateful for its success. But it’s actually Galway Girl that’s become a bigger deal than Copperhead Road and gets the most requests. It gets played at every wedding in Ireland and they’ll probably say that an Irishman wrote it, but I don’t care, they’ll still be playing it when I’m gone.”

As well as playing at The Tanks and Bryon Bay Bluesfest, Steve Earle and The Dukes will also embark on a massive tour of Australia touching every corner of the continent with more festival appearances along the trip.

“I’m going to spend a little bit of time at the Port Fairy Folk Festival where I’ll get to go see Steven Gilchrist shop that’s down that way. I play Mandolins made by him and he’s going to make me a new Mandolin and I’m going to pick out the top and the back. So I’m looking forwards to that”.

Mitch Sullivan

Steve Earle & The Dukes perform at Tanks Art Centre. Thursday 24th March 2016. Tickets from Ticketlink. Doors open 6.30pm. Show starts 7.30pm.

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