Steve Earle, ‘smokin’ band’ return to Belly Up |

Steve Earle, ‘smokin’ band’ return to Belly Up

Steve Earle will return to Belly Up Aspen for a concert on Thursday night with The Dukes.
Aspen Times file |

If You Go …

Who: Steve Earle and The Dukes

Where: Belly Up Aspen

When: Thursday, Aug. 3, 8:30 p.m.

How much: $35-$55

Tickets: Belly Up box office;

While he’s never been one to shy away from politics, Steve Earle’s newest record doesn’t mention Donald Trump or the currently fractured and divided political climate in America.

“Everyone is shocked this record is not more political,” the singer-songwriter said in a recent phone interview. “But nobody knew this was going to happen.”

Earle, 62, said he supported Sen. Bernie Sanders for president but, like many Americans, expected Hillary Clinton to be elected in November.

“I went onstage expecting to have our first woman president,” he said. “I came off (stage) and learned we’d elected an orangutan.”

Earle said he and his longtime band, The Dukes, recorded the new record, “So You Wannabe An Outlaw,” in early December, and he thought about writing political songs for it. But he said he liked the batch of songs he had and decided to let them stand.

“I just let the record be what it is,” Earle said. “But this band’s smokin’. So the next one is gonna be just as country and way more political.”

Earle and The Dukes hit the road at the beginning of July and are set to play Belly Up Aspen today. He said he plans to continue touring North America for the rest of the year before taking off for Australia and Europe in 2018.

“I do still enjoy touring,” he said before a recent show in Cincinnati. “You have to enjoy it or it will kill you if you don’t.”

“So You Wannabe An Outlaw” was released in the middle of June and is an unabashedly country record featuring duets with Willie Nelson, Miranda Lambert and Johnny Bush, who wrote the Nelson classic “Whiskey River.” Earle said in a press statement he was “out to unapologetically ‘channel’ Waylon (Jennings) as best I could.”

Earle is now divorced from singer-songwriter Allison Moorer, though their son, John Henry, remains at the center of his life.

“I know why I wake up in the morning,” he said. “I’ve got a little boy with autism. He’s 7, I’m 62. My job is to make sure he’s OK.”

Earle, who lives in New York City, said he feels himself becoming an autism activist, and believes the growing prevalence of the disease is “epidemic.” However, he said he doesn’t believe the theories that vaccinations are behind the rise.

“I live in a community of 50 families with 50 kids with autism,” he said. “Over 20 of them have not been vaccinated. I don’t think that’s what’s causing it.

“It’s something environmental. It’s not happenstance. I blame everything on Monsanto.”

Earle has played Aspen and the Belly Up for years, and enjoys coming to Colorado — his brother used to run the Colorado Springs airport — though the altitude can be difficult.

“I quit smoking 10 years too late,” he said. “I’ve got some damage to my lungs. It’s kind of hard to breathe.”

Still, he promised a good show and urged Aspen to show up.

“This is the best band I’ve had,” Earle said. “It should be a blast, so come on out.”

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