I didn’t see nearly as many show this year as I have the past three. There are reasons for that, but they’re not particularly relevant. As I was finishing my work day yesterday, though, I reflected that even in a small sample size, I got to see so many bands I adore, it was worth it. I saw Josh Ritter and the Felice Brothers, I saw Gaslight Anthem, I saw Fall Out Boy twice, and hung out with Frightened Rabbit, and I finally saw Corb Lund and Hayes Carll on the same night, and I saw the Head and the Heart sell me on the new record completely.
I didn’t see Frank Turner. I didn’t see Mason Jennings. Of everyone who toured, those are the only two big gaps in my best loved bands.
And Justin Townes Earle would have been one, too, if not for last night’s last minute show at Southland Ballroom, a holiday surprise in a small room.
I’d never seen JTE play without a band, never seen him just him and his guitar. That’s what last night was, and that’s what made it so special. When you strip songs down like that, just to Justin’s words and chords, you’re reminded how powerful and clever they are. He played songs off his next record, which he hasn’t recorded yet but is written. It was an incredible show.
Full set here.