Justin Townes Earle (born January 4, 1982) is an American singer-songwriter and musician. He is a son of alternative country artist Steve Earle and is named after Townes Van Zandt.
Earle grew up in South Nashville, Tennessee, with his mother, Carol Ann Hunter Earle. His father, Steve Earle, gave him his middle name in honor of his own mentor, Townes van Zandt. At the age of two he was left by his father with his mother.
Earle played in two Nashville bands: the Distributors, a rock band, and a ragtime and bluegrass combo the Swindlers. Earle spent some time as guitarist and keyboardist for his father's touring band the Dukes.
Earle developed a hybrid style of music mixing folk, blues and country. In 2007, he released a six-song EP called Yuma. He then signed a contract with Chicago's Bloodshot Records and he released an album called The Good Life in 2008.
In 2009 Earle co-billed The Big Surprise Tour with Gillian Welch and David Rawlings, Old Crow Medicine Show and The Felice Brothers and released the album Midnight at the Movies. In September 2009, Earle received an Americana Music Award for New and Emerging Artist of the Year.
In 2010 he released the album Harlem River Blues, followed by the album Nothing's Gonna Change the Way You Feel About Me Now in 2012. He also appeared in an episode of the HBO television series Treme with his father.
In 2011 Earle received the Americana Music Award in the Song of the Year category for "Harlem River Blues". His album of the same name has been described as having a "gently flowing, urban Americana sound, with horns, organ and tangy electric guitar". That year he also contributed a cover of Maybe Baby on the 2011 tribute album Rave on Buddy Holly and played Newport Folk Festival and the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival.
Nothing's Gonna Change the Way You Feel About Me Now was listed at album number 37 on Rolling Stone's list of the top 50 albums of 2012, with the annotation as follows: "The son of country-rock renegade Steve Earle has grown into a songwriter to rival his dad."
Earle produced Wanda Jackson's album Unfinished Business in 2012.
Earle played the Grand Ole Opry in 2008, Historical WSM, South By Southwest (2008-2010, 2012), the historic Beacon Theater (May 2009), Bristol Rhythm and Roots Reunion (September 2009), Bonnaroo (2009) Bumbershoot (2010), the East Coast Blues & Roots Music Festival (Byron Bay, Australia), 2012, the Bowery Ballroom (March 2010) and the Nelsonville Music Festival (2008 and 2011).
Earle was born and raised in Nashville, Tennessee. He was raised by his mother alone, who was always hard at work. He first got hooked on drugs when he was 12 years old. He began writing and playing the guitar on his own, which led to him getting a publishing contract at 16. However, he lost it due to his lifestyle. Later, he was also kicked out of his dad's band.
According to Earle's on-stage song introductions, he has lived for some years in Chicago, in the Rogers Park neighborhood while holding on to sundry non-musician jobs.
He was sober for eight years after stints in rehab, until a relapse September 2010, when he had a fight with an Indianapolis club owner over a broken mirror and his band's pay. This resulted in him spending the night in jail, followed by a month in an alcohol rehabilitation center. Earle has been sober since then.
Earle moved to New York City in 2007, and currently lives in Nashville, Tennessee.
Earle was married in 2013.
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