When: Sun., Aug. 25, 8 p.m. 2013
In a recent session for satellite radio syndicate SiriusXM, Steve Earle talked about taking a walk to the gym with actor Tim Robbins. They went past a church where Robbins had served as an altar boy, the same place Earle had noticed long soup kitchen lines forming. As it turns out, the place had been a soup kitchen all along, but Earle was noticing now because of changes in mental health and homeless funding. "We see," Earle said, "what we choose to see."
Earle is the sort of songwriter who forces us to see things we've perhaps chosen not to see—the implausibility of our economic situation, the terror of our digital dependence, the desperation of our modern loneliness. On his latest, The Low Highway, he threatens to burn down a Wal-Mart, the obvious treacle of that idea mitigated by the grim fury in the voice of the narrator. A survivor of Nashville and drug addiction, Earle has become a national statesman by moving through darkness and into a world that's not quite light but is bright enough that he can see and share the troubles he's found. &mdash Grayson Currin