Country likes to dress up its outlaw icons lavishly, sell them on spangled stages and in lush, larger-than-life recordings. Rock likes to claim the same country icons, strip them down and sully them (if they are not already fully self-sullied) into something that it imagines to be real and raw. Call it the Cash axiom. Silly country. Silly rock.
Steve Earle has seen both sides and no sides, being something of a genuine genre-disenfranchised commercial outlaw. 1988’s Copperhead Road planted the space needle on the Austin skyline. 2007’s Washington Square Serenade was a little late to the party with its recombinant roots electronica, but sported a surprisingly comfortable sound nevertheless. But 2011’s I’ll Never Get out of this World Alive sounds like home. T-Bone Burnett is where legends turn when they want to be more like themselves, and this Burnett-produced effort delivers the Biblical heft, the ratty weirdness and the full mythic scope of which Earle is capable. This sounds like a vein that this particular bearded bard could ride fruitfully into the night.
Steve Earle will perform an acoustic concert at the Bardavon Opera House in Poughkeepsie on Sunday, September 30 at 7 p.m. Tickets cost $40, $35 for members, and are available at the Bardavon and Ulster Performing Arts Center box offices, by phone at (845) 473-2072 and (845) 339-6088 as well as via www.ticketmaster.com. The Bardavon is located at 35 Market Street in Poughkeepsie.