The alt-country musician plays the Neptune Theatre on Aug. 15 in support of his latest album, “So You Wannabe An Outlaw.”
Steve Earle has had the kind of lengthy career in alternative country that it’s no surprise a conversation with him will touch on Nashville and Austin, and influences like Guy Clark and Townes Van Zandt. But it’s a bit surprising that Seattle’s food scene gets equal time.
“Seattle is one of my favorite food towns,” Earle said in a phone conversation from his tour bus. “Whether it’s pan-Asian cuisine, or a hangtown fry, it’s special.”
Such is the life of a musician on the road. Earle plays Tuesday, Aug. 15, at the Neptune, a venue he’s visited often. This time he’s with his band the Dukes, promoting his latest album, “So You Wannabe An Outlaw.”
Steve Earle & The Dukes
8 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 15, Neptune Theatre, 1303 N.E. 45th St.; $38 (800-745-3000 or stgpresents.org),
Though that record is more country than his last, which he did with Shawn Colvin, Earle has never fit into the confines of Nashville, even when he was a for-hire songwriter in the ’80s. Earle is always outspoken, and a recent quote about how current country music is “hip-hop for people who are afraid of black people,” got much internet traction.
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He says he doesn’t tweet, and tries not to read reviews, though critics have applauded his return to country. Earle says that means critic “Robert Christgau can die now.” Christgau “has hated every single record,” Earle says, but gave the new one good notice.
Earle is open to talking about how 12-step groups saved his life but says that Jimi Hendrix, whom he calls a “genius,” has had his drug use “glossed over” in some histories. “[Jimi] was one of the most out of control drug addicts of anyone,” he says.
Earle didn’t know Hendrix, and Grunge-era music was more of an influence on him (his favorite band of that era was Alice In Chains). When it comes to Kurt Cobain, Earle says “it’s always the songs” that make a lasting influence.
Being a singer/songwriter is certainly Earle’s most frequent topic, and it’s an art that he says was invented by Bob Dylan, though Earle’s mentors were Guy Clark and Townes Van Zandt. Earle’s ode to Clark, “Goodbye Michelangelo,” is a highlight of new album. Earle carried Clark’s ashes for a time on his tour bus.
As that tour bus heads toward Seattle, Earle thinks of the hangtown fry awaiting him, but also of the large music legacy of our town. He hosts a show on satellite radio and says he plays many Seattle bands be it the Sonics to his pals the Supersuckers.
“There’s just something in the water,” Earle says. “Or at least in the coffee.”