Kimo stage circa 1927
Your Cheese Magnet correspondent has lately been spending his time chasing two new puppies around the house, between bouts of trying to get actual work done. I have seen some movies, and will get a review up soon, probably of the Roger Corman “classic” ATTACK OF THE CRAB MONSTERS, which is about giant mutant telepathic crabs which inhabit a Pacific atoll that looks suspiciously like the California coast. In the meantime, here’s a short something about something you all should really know about:
Steve Earle came to town last night, ably assisted by his five person band, the Dukes, in support of his new cd , SO YOU WANNABE AN OUTLAW (which, according to reviews is “an homage to outlaw music and is dedicated to the late Waylon Jennings”) and played before a sold out house in the Kimo, which is probably Albuquerque’s most charming building (I know, low bar). The last, I believe, example of Southwestern Art Deco in the city and probably the last surviving movie palace (the name fits) in that style in the world, it really is an architectural treasure and a great concert venue. I’ve been a fan of his for a long time (he wrote the finest, in my estimation, coal mining song of all time, “The Mountain” which ends with the gut-wenching line “There’s a chill in the air only miners can feel; There’s ghosts in the tunnels that the company sealed.” It has long been an inspiration to me when I’m working on BLACK TRAIN COMING. You can see it here. This was the first opportunity I’ve had to see him live.
He and the Dukes played a three hour set of country-tinged rock (as opposed to rock-tinged country, if you know what I mean), traditional and roots style music, with Earle playing electric and acoustic guitar, mandolin, and bouzouki (“If you’re traveling by air,” Earle says, “don’t tell security that you have a bouzouki.”), flavored with his unapologetic political asides and discourse on his own life, which some might describe as turbulent. There were many highlights, including his own “Copperhead Road,” (weirdly, just the night before I had watched Robert Mitchum’s 1958 movie THUNDER ROAD, which tells a similar story), “Hey Joe.,” immortalized by Hendrix in ‘66, with Dukes’ guitarist Chris Masterson playing an incredible electric lead, and “Goodbye Michelangelo,” Earle’s tribute to the late, great Guy Clark (and if you don’t know Guy Clarke, check out this live version of “Dublin Blues”. Clark, who passed away last year after a long battle with lymphoma took a then 19-year old high school dropout Steve Earle under his wing and, as Earle said, “taught him how to write songs.” He ended the three song encore with a deeply personal monolog about, at heart, being a Romantic, and the haunting acoustic song “The Girl on the Mountain.”
Steve Earle and the Dukes will be touring for awhile. As I write this they are on the road to Tucson. If they come to your town do yourself a favor and check them out. He is that true rarity in the arts, a unique voice, and he deserves to be heard.