To prepare El Dorado for his upcoming show, Steve Earle said, “Just come to stay for a while and to have a good time. They’ll probably hear most of what they want to hear, if they’ve never seen us before.”
Steve Earle & The Dukes will be kicking off Copperhead Road’s 30th Anniversary Tour on Friday at the Griffin Music Hall in El Dorado.
The opening act will be The Mastersons, an alternative country band. The duo is made up of husband and wife Eleanor Whitmore and Chris Masterson, who are also members of Earle’s band.
Earle has performed many times in Arkansas, but this will be his first visit to El Dorado.
Earle grew up in San Antonio, Texas, and his dad was from Jacksonville, Texas, “so I’ve heard of (El Dorado). I know people that went there to work. I’ve just never been down there in that oil patch,” Earle said in a phone interview.
Earle & The Dukes will be performing “Copperhead Road” in its entirety, along with songs from his album, “So You Wanna Be An Outlaw,” plus songs that will go all the way back to his first record, “Guitar Town.” “Copperhead Road” is Earle’s third studio album and was released in 1988. Earle said it’s still his biggest selling record.
“It means a lot to a lot of people and we did a 30th Anniversary Guitar Town Tour so I just decided it was the thing to do,” Earle said.
Earle said country radio stations didn’t embrace his second record; instead it was more popular with rock stations.
“I just decided to make a record that would be more accepted on rock radio and I went to Memphis instead of Nashville and made Copperhead in late 1987,” he said.
Earle is a three-time Grammy Award recipient and 14-time Grammy nominee. He has released 20 albums in his career and has had songs recorded by legends such as Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings, Vince Gill, Emmylou Harris and many others.
“Cash and Waylon are pretty huge for anybody, but Emmylou Harris, she’s recorded a couple of my songs and they both meant a lot to me,” Earle said. “She recorded ‘Guitar Town’ and one of the few little glimmers of light in a very dark part of my life was learning that Emmy had recorded ‘Guitar Town’ and Shawn Colvin had recorded ‘Someday,’ which meant a lot to me.” In 2015, Earle & The Dukes released the single “Mississippi, It’s Time,” which is directed towards the state’s refusal to remove the Confederate Flag from their state flag. When the News-Times reported Earle & the Dukes would be playing in El Dorado, a couple of people commented on the story on Facebook that they would not come to see him because of that song, to which Earle replied, “Well you know what, it sounds like we need to play ‘Mississippi, It’s Time’ when we come to El Dorado. You can count on it.”
When it comes to his musical interests, Earle said the girls in country music are probably better than anybody else in Nashville.
“Miranda Lambert’s last record was (freaking) breathtaking if you ask me,” Earle said. “I just love every second of that record.”
Earle and Lambert wrote a duet that is on his last record called “This Is How It Ends.” He also enjoys Chris Stapleton’s music. He added that his son, Justin Earle, “is pretty (darn) good.”
Currently, Earle said he is more involved in theater these days and he is working on music for a couple of shows.
Being a writer himself, Earle enjoys reading authors including Graham Greene, William Shakespeare, Nick Tosches and even J.K. Rowling.
“I have the complete works of William Shakespeare on my phone but I also have all of the Harry Potter books,” he said. “I think J.K. Rowling will be remembered. She is the (Charles) Dickins of our era.”
Earle is very open about his personal life and said he will be 23-years sober in September.
He has also been involved with activism over the years. He said he was very active in protesting against the death penalty for a long time, but now most of his work is done with autism. Earle’s son, John Henry, who will turn 8-years-old in April, was diagnosed with autism at the age of 2. Earle is very passionate about his activism with autism, stating that one in 89 kids are born somewhere on the spectrum.
Earle currently lives in New York City, where John Henry goes to school.
On his days off, Earle spends his mornings doing yoga before taking John Henry to school and hits the gym. Then he either goes to tape a radio show at SiriusXM or works on writing for his theater projects.
He is also writing a literary memoir called, “I Can’t Remember If We Said Goodbye,” which is largely about recovery, he said.
When it comes to touring, Earle said he wishes he could tour less to spend more time with his son, but he does enjoy it.
“I like getting on the bus and waking up in a different town,” he said.
Earle said for the most part, El Dorado should enjoy his show, though he noted, “I may piss some people off, but you know, (screw) ‘em.”
Kaitlyn Rigdon can be reached at 870-862-6611 or firstname.lastname@example.org.