Townes, a 15-song set, features Tom Morello of Rage Against The Machine/Street Sweeper Social Club/The Nightwatchman fame on electric guitar and includes backing vocals by Moorer on “Loretta” and “To Live Is To Fly.”
While the hour long set focused on Van Zandt songs from Townes, there were also a few of Earle’s own, including "Rich Man's War" and “Ft. Worth Blues.” And in between songs, the outspoken performer didn’t hesitate to offer his views, also free of charge.
Earle, still displaying a graying beard and shaggy but thinning hair that grew out of his appearances as a drug counselor on The Wire, said, “I’ve been talking about doing this (project) for a long time,” but moments in history such as 9/11 took precedence in his life as a concerned citizen, contemporary songwriter and notorious rabble rouser. Not to mention when, “the President of the United States would do something particularly stupid,” a remark that required no further identification for the applauding group of liberals Earle is known to attract.
In introducing Van Zandt’s “Pancho and Lefty,” the widely popular song made famous by Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard, Earle said, “There was no doubt in my mind about what I was going to record first. This is like the first day in prison. You got to find the biggest guy on the yard and knock him the (bleep) out for taking your radio.”
Before performing the blues-infused “Brand New Companion,” Earle discussed Van Zandt’s affinity for the legendary Lightnin’ Hopkins (along with poet Robert Frost), then knocked everyone’s socks off by wailing on the harmonica.
Earle also discussed the 2008 presidential election, proudly saying, “I did vote for Barack Obama and I haven’t regretted it for one single second so far. That doesn’t mean I’ve agreed with everything he’s said and done, but I do admire him for sticking to his guns at least on paper about what he promised and what he said he was going to do and he hasn’t used the excuse of the wrecked economy to not pay attention to anything else. ... It’s all one big picture. And I’m impressed with that.
“That being said, I’ve never blamed what happened to us in the country completely and totally on the administration that was in power. This is a democracy ... somewhat. And I think we have to take responsibility for that. And that means, it’s up to us to hold him to the promises he made to us in the election cycle that got us out in record numbers to vote for him.”