Oh, the trouble Justin Townes Earle has seen. The 29-year-old singer/songwriter's well-publicized drug and alcohol problems over the years have resulted in several rehab stints, the most recent coming last fall after an altercation at an Indianapolis venue which necessitated Earle's return to treatment and the cancellation of his tour, including his scheduled appearance at Cincinnati’s MidPoint Music Festival.
Thankfully, Earle is doing better these days.
"I'm doing good, health-wise," Earle says from his Nashville home. "I've got a lot of things straightened out and I'm working on others. I never shy away from telling people this is an incredibly hard business to be good in."
That’s a vast improvement for Earle, whose substance issues were so bad at one point that his father, Steve Earle, removed his son from his position as guitarist in his backing band. When you go too far for a guy whose own appetite for illicit substances earned him a prison stint in the mid-'90s, you've seriously crossed a line. At the same time, Justin's father offered some invaluable advice, coming from a place of wisdom, perspective and love.
"He just told me to always stay honest with myself," Justin says, "to know who I am and where I stand and to let that reflect in my art, and I’d always be OK if I did that."
Justin Townes Earle performs Sunday at the Southgate House with guest Joshua Black Wilkins. Go here to read Brian Baker's full interview.