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Gapers Block published from April 22, 2003 to Jan. 1, 2016. The site will remain up in archive form. Please visit Third Coast Review, a new site by several GB alumni.
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Sunday, December 10

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Album Wed Sep 15 2010

Justin Townes Earle: Big City With a Country Heart


Justin Townes Earle is part of music history (as his dad is the illustrious Steve Earle) but that relationship does not define him. He's also a totally amazing part of alt-country present. Originally from Nashville, JTE spent a few years in Chicago (where he was signed to Bloodshot Records) playing the circuit of small venues and putting in his time. Now he lives in New York City (New York City?) where his latest album, Harlem River Blues, gains a cinematic quality of the cowboy lost in the concrete jungle. Songs like "Learning to Cry," "Harlem River Blues" and "Slippin' and Slidin'" are tearful and steeped in a kind of work-a-day depression one feels when all around you is grey, and black asphalt, and more grey, but you have to get up anyway. Even the tune "Rogers Park" — with its nod back in time to Earle's years in Chicago, and our bleak months of winter — has a mind to dwell just for a moment in the dark past even though "this town's dead tonight, I got no place to be" speaks not only to a time gone by, but also the desolation of city streets during a snowstorm. But then there's the wink from "One More Night In Brooklyn" where, well, we might as well make the best of it, and be with someone special. And there's the modern twist on the conventional trainman song "Working for the MTA" (which makes me harken back to the Kingston Trio's folk tune "The M.T.A. Song"). Earle hits his stride with boogie woogie in "Move Over Mama" and the sweet song "Wanderin'" which make you want to really cut a rug. But he's really about storytelling, and giving audiences songs they can sing along to whether they're behind the wheel of their Chevy, or waiting for a train far below the streetscape. Everyone has to find a reason to get up and get going in the morning — even when it's dark and grey outside. Believe it or not, this album makes me want to just keep hitting "repeat" it's so true to life. The rollercoaster of the story is just another day in the big city. Cowboy or no, I'm sure you can relate.

[mp3] Justin Townes Earle: "Harlem River Blues" from Harlem River Blues

Justin Townes Earle plays Lincoln Hall on Saturday, September 18th. Jessica Lea Mayfield opens. Music starts at 10pm. Tickets are $13 (adv) $15 (door). Lincoln Hall is located at 2424 N. Lincoln Ave., 773-525-2501.

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Feature Thu Dec 31 2015

Our Final Transmission Days

By The Gapers Block Transmission Staff

Transmission staffers share their most cherished memories and moments while writing for Gapers Block.

Read this feature »


  Chicago Music Media

Alarm Magazine
Big Rock Candy Mountain
Boxx Magazine
Brooklyn Vegan Chicago
Can You See The Sunset From The Southside
Chicago Reader Music
Chicagoist Arts & Events
Chicago Music Guide
Chicago Singles Club
Country Music Chicago
Cream Team
Dark Jive
The Deli Chicago
Jim DeRogatis
Fake Shore Drive
Gowhere Hip Hop
The Hood Internet
Jaded in Chicago
Largehearted Boy
Little White Earbuds
Live Fix Blog
Live Music Blog
Loud Loop Press
Oh My Rockness
Pop 'stache
Pop Matters
Resident Advisor
Sound Opinions
Sun-Times Music Blog
Theft Liable to Prosecution
Tribune Music
UR Chicago
Victim Of Time
WFMU's Beware of the Blog
Windy City Rock


Abbey Pub
Andy's Jazz Club
Aragon Ballroom
Auditorium Theatre
Beat Kitchen
Bottom Lounge
Buddy Guy's Legends
The Burlington
California Clipper
Concord Music Hall
Congress Theater
Cubby Bear
Double Door
Elbo Room
Empty Bottle
Green Mill
The Hideout
Honky Tonk BBQ
House of Blues
Kingston Mines
Lincoln Hall
Logan Square Auditorium
Mayne Stage
The Mutiny
Old Town School of Folk Music
Park West
The Promontory
Red Line Tap
Reggie's Rock Club & Music Joint
The Riviera
Thalia Hall
The Shrine
Symphony Center
Tonic Room
Uncommon Ground
The Vic
The Whistler

  Labels, Promoters
  & Shops:

Alligator Records
Beverly Records
Bloodshot Records
Dave's Records
Delmark Records
Drag City
Dusty Groove
Flameshovel Records
Groove Distribution
He Who Corrupts
Jam Productions
Jazz Record Mart
Kranky Records
Laurie's Planet of Sound
Minty Fresh
Numero Group
mP Shows
Permanent Records
Reckless Records
Smog Veil Records
Southport & Northport Records
Thick Records
Thrill Jockey Records Touch & Go/Quarterstick Records
Victory Records

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Transmission is the music section of Gapers Block. It aims to highlight Chicago music in its many varied forms, as well as cover touring acts performing in the city. More...
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