Justin Townes Earle to perform, speak his mind in State College

Justin Townes Earle released the album “Absent Fathers” last year. He will perform at The State Theatre on July 27.
Justin Townes Earle released the album “Absent Fathers” last year. He will perform at The State Theatre on July 27. Photo provided

Americana musician Justin Townes Earle will play The State Theatre on July 27 with opening act Jason McIntyre.

From the beginning, Earle said he seemed destined to be a musician and that his affinity for music carried him to experience more “adult” artists at a young age.

“When I was 7 years old, I owned every single AC/DC record. ... I guarantee I was the first kid in Nashville, Tennessee, to listen to Nirvana,” he said. “That affected me in a big way.”

In September 2014, Earle released a record titled “Single Mothers.” Shortly after, in January 2015, he released the follow-up album “Absent Fathers.”

“ ‘Single Mothers’ was written to be one record,” Earle said. “There were some delays due to issues with the record label, some misinterpretations. So, there was about a year lag for when ‘Single Mothers’ actually came out and when it was supposed to. In that time, I almost wasn’t going to put it out, because I was just fed up with it and ready to move on by the time it was ready to put it out.”

Earle said his wife talked him into putting the record out, and he decided to make a companion piece.

“I’ve always written records to be records,” he said. “There’s no just writing songs and lumping them together. On average, since I’ve been putting out records, I write about 10-12 songs a year. You don’t want to put anything out that you’re not sure of. I definitely got lucky that in the first 10 years of my career I found seven or eight times when I felt good about putting out records.”

The current tour sees Earle out on his own on stage, but he’s got plenty of moral support with him along the way.

“Me, my wife and two dogs are traveling together,” he said. “We do that a lot. It’s the way we like to do it — stop at antique stores and overpack the car and things like that.”

At 34, Earle said he’s put his party days behind him, and he has fully embraced a more low-key lifestyle.

“I could run on no sleep and do shows and run like hell when I was in my early 20s. I can’t do that anymore. And, I can’t expect to stay married hanging out like that, I think,” he said. “We definitely have a calmer life, everyone in my band is at least a decade older than me. ... The cool kids aren’t in my band; the cool cats are in my band.”

Earle plans on finishing out the year playing live, only to get back in the studio next year.

“I’ve got a few more shows coming up through the fall and winter,” he said. “But, we’re going to be shutting everything down to make a record here soon. Some new things going on with a lot of people I’ve worked with or at least known for a long time. I’m just excited about what’s going to happen.”

Earle’s diverse taste in music is on display when discussing his dream collaboration.

“I think if I could sing a duet with Billie Holiday, I think that would be pretty amazing,” he said. “That would top my list of historic (musicians) as far as history goes. For sure.”

When it comes to young, up-and-coming musicians, Earle offers some realistic advice.

“Play anything you can get your hands on,” he said. “You’re not going to know who you are immediately. You start out too attached to your influences. Playing the gigs and failing — failing miserably — is a real part of it. I think truly successful people will always tell you about their failures before they tell you about their successes. Adding to that, I always say this to them too: ‘lawyer.’ And, make sure you can trust them!”

Earle promises a unique and entertaining show for all who attend his State College performance.

“Well, I guarantee you won’t be bored,” he said. “I have a general kind of way of ... saying straight what comes off the cuff. Now, if you get offended easily, please come because I’d love to ruin your night.”


  • What: Justin Townes Earle
  • When: 8 p.m. July 27
  • Where: The State Theatre, 130 W. College Ave., State College
  • Info: www.thestatetheatre.org