Steve Earle has had a long and sometimes bumpy career, but he has made more than twenty good CDs since his debut in 1986, and there is nothing that indicates that he will stop releasing new, good CDs in the future. Wednesday night he played a concert in Oslo and Thursday he played at Bergen Fest where I saw him.
Not many Americana artists have started out with a success like Steve Earle’s debut CD, Guitar Town in 1986. And he repeated it on his third one, Copperhead Road in 1988. With this one he also got recognition in the mainstream rock market as a cross-over artist, a status that has followed him until today.
The first half of the 90’s is a dark chapter in Steve Earle’s life, with alcohol and drug abuse and little creative work But he fought himself out of it with help from good friends, and in 1995 he released another great CD, Train a Comin’. From there he has been back on track and steadily released good and great CDs.
My first Steve Earle concert must shave been sometime in the late 90’s, when he toured with the Del McCoury band. Strictly acoustic, and one microphone for everyone to sing through. I also think this was my first real introduction to bluegrass – except sporadic listening on radio during the years.
Since that first time I have seen him several times, both in Austin, Texas and in Oslo. He was the keynote speaker at the SXSW in 2000, and I remember I was impressed because he used his time to speak up against the death penalty.
During his more than 30 year carreer Steve Earle has established himself as one of the main storytellers in the Americana tradition, and he has also written songs for many other artists. He has also performed with many other artists, the Del McCoury Band is one, Lucinda WIlliams is another. His latest CD is The Low Highway, which was released this year.
All pictures are © Per Ole Hagen and must not be used without written permission.