Article by James Stamper / Photos by Thomas R. Biggs
Ladies and gentlemen, Mr. Guitar Town himself, Steve Earle, made his presence known at the Mountain Arts Center in Prestonsburg, KY! I was ecstatic to see Steve Earle and The Dukes perform so close to home! I want to give a special shoutout to the Mountain Arts Center and the Mayor of Prestonsburg, Les Stapleton, for bringing these amazing shows into the eastern part of Kentucky. This brings me so much joy to know that I don’t have to drive 100 miles to see an incredible show. I’ve heard people around this area say, “There’s nothing to do” or “It’s boring around here”. Open your eyes!! The local music scene is booming, the MAC along with the Appalachian Wireless Arena is bringing in tremendous shows, so if you’re “bored”, get out and see what amazing talent we truly have coming in this area! With that being said, let’s explain the show in detail!
Now, with all the concerts I’ve been to in my life, I’ve seen a lot of openers, but nothing like this opener for Steve Earle. To my surprise, 2 members of The Dukes opened the show with their side project “The Mastersons”. Relatives of “Bat Masterson”? Who knows? But all kidding aside, these guys did a fabulous performance. The stunning duo of Chris Masterson and Eleanor Whitmore showed the Mountain Arts Center what they were all about! What’s even more impressive is they’re husband and wife! In my mind, when two musicians are together romantically, I believe there is more of a special connection shared on stage. I picked up on it quickly when watching these two. They had a love for what they were doing, and they weren’t going to let up! Performing songs such as “King of the Castle”, “Eyes Open Wide”, “The Devil You Know?” among others! King of the Castle had deep meaning behind it. Eleanor told the story of someone she knew who lost a loved one and that person said the one they lost was the “King of the Castle” and that stuck, so they wrote a song about it. Overall, it was a phenomenal performance, and I was excited I got to witness The Mastersons in person! If you haven’t checked them out, I would fix that in a hurry!
Steve Earle hails from Ft. Monroe, VA, but moved to Texas when he was still a kid. His father was an air traffic controller and was stationed in Ft. Monroe, VA, which led Steve to be born there. Anyway, I was so excited to get to see this talented individual in concert! His biggest song, “Copperhead Road”, has been a part of my life since I can remember! From hearing it as a kid to playing it with a band, to listening to it with my buddies in high school. Have you ever had a dream of getting to see someone or a band that was a part of your life and you can’t feel but overwhelmed with joy when it happens? That, my friends, is an exact description of how I felt when I laid eyes on Steve Earle. So thankful I was able to attend!
I will note this when Steve Earle came out to perform, the Mountain Arts Center erupted! It got LOUD! Everyone was so excited to have live music back again! It’s been back for a little while now, but everyone is still eating it up! I mean, a little over a year is a long time not to be able to enjoy concerts! You could tell Steve was excited to be on stage again and doing a summer tour! He was going to tour last year, but COVID -19 had a part to play in that. Earle performed some super songs such as “Guitar Town”, “The Devil’s Right Hand”, “Devil Put The Coal In The Ground”, “My Old Friend The Blues” and of course, you already know he had to perform the fan-favorite “Copperhead Road”. Every person that was in attendance was on their feet! This would be the only time everyone stood up, besides giving a standing ovation! Steve Earle deserved it after an epic performance like this one! He also paid tribute to his son, Justin Townes Earle, who passed away not too long ago, covering some of the songs he had written. Steve made a whole album in tribute to Justin. It’s titled “J.T.” and I picked up a copy at the show. I would recommend anyone to pick this up and listen to the brilliance that’s on this record. Outstanding work.
Overall, Steve Earle and The Dukes put on a fantastic show! If you missed this, oh my, you missed out big time! I would be glad to see Steve Earle come around again. If he does, you can guarantee you’ll find me in the audience! 10/10 performance! They say you never come back from Copperhead Road, but somehow, I returned and lived to tell the story!
Please support live music! Live music needs our support right now, more than ever, so please, see a show, buy some merch and help your favorite artist stay on the road and continue to write music!