Making Sure Justin Townes Earle’s Legacy Is Not Forgotten
Second generation country performer Justin Townes Earle passed away tragically on August 20th, 2020, but strong efforts are underway to make sure his legacy doesn’t go forgotten, especially after the ownership of the label that released his first five albums was sent in flux with the sale of Bloodshot Records.
Justin Townes Earle was an anchor for Bloodshot Records from 2007 to 2012. Exceleration Music purchased the label in late October, but the Exceleration and the Justin Townes Earle estate have reached a specific deal to make sure the Earle portion of the catalog continues to be serviced and “celebrated, recognized, and amplified across the global digital and physical market” into the future.
“I believe, as many of his fans do, that Justin Townes’ songs and recordings deserve much wider acclaim and recognition than he achieved in his lifetime,” says Exceleration partner Charles Caldas. “It is humbling to have this opportunity to work alongside his estate to ensure that his music continues to be discovered and celebrated, and most importantly to work to make sure that his extraordinary legacy as a songwriter and recording artist brings him the recognition he deserves.”
Laurens “Larry” Kusters, who is helping to manage the Justin Townes Earle estate says, “We are very excited to take on the next chapter with the great team at Exceleration Music. After we lost Justin, we crafted a plan of how his legacy will be immortalized. Exceleration Music is a crucial addition to the team to make that happen.”
Justin’s wife Jennifer Earle adds, “I am truly touched by the appreciation that Exceleration Music has for Justin and am very much excited about combining forces with our collective visions to honor his legacy as a songwriter, husband and father to Etta.”
New West Records, which was one of Justin Townes Earle’s labels after Bloodshot, has also just made limited colored vinyl editions of his albums Kids in the Street and The Saint of Lost Causes available for the Christmas buying season. To learn more, check out New West’s exclusive collections.
Also announced recently, Recording King has made a signature Justin Townes Earle model guitar, with the royalties of each sale going back to the Justin Townes Earle estate. Fans of Justin Townes Earle know that the songwriter had perfected his own style of guitar playing adapted from a clawhammer banjo style and other influences, which allowed Earle to pick bass notes while also playing the melody, permitting the music to project enough where he didn’t need a band behind him to fill a room with sound.
As a fan of older style guitars and Recording King’s Dirty 30 model, Justin Townes Earle was developing a signature model with the company before he passed.
“We’d been working on this project with Justin since about 2012,” says Ashley Atz of Recording King, “He’s such a great songwriter, I think sometimes his guitar playing didn’t get enough attention, but he was a killer guitar player. He could play bass, rhythm and lead on just one instrument, so he needed a guitar that was really dry sounding with really short decay, to make room for the upper lead-style stuff that he was playing … We were so sad he didn’t get to actually see and hold the finished product before he passed, but I can tell you this, he’d be so excited right now to know we finally got this across home plate.”
The single 0 body guitar with a satin tobacco sunburst finish has a floating bridge and a gold tailpiece over the AAA spruce top, and the initials “JTE” on the head stock. To see more, CLICK HERE.
And on January 4th, 2022, which would have been Justin Townes Earle’s 40th birthday, a celebration of Justin Townes Earle’s life will commence at the Ryman Auditorium. Steve Earle, Emmylou Harris, Jason Isbell, Lucinda Williams, Ben Nichols of Lucero, Mike Ness and Johnny Two Bags of Social Distortion, Old Crow Medicine Show, and many more will be paying tribute to the songs and legacy of Justin Townes Earle. The show will benefit Justin’s 4 year old daughter, Etta St. James Earle’s trust. It is currently sold out.
Sometimes when an artist passes—whether it’s too soon or after a long and storied life—their legacy slowly recedes in memory. For Justin Townes Earle, his family and peers are stepping up to make sure the legacy of this important artist in American roots music is preserved.
Wilson PIck It
November 26, 2021 @ 12:04 pm
Don’t forget his Dad’s record of his songs, recorded last year, with proceeds going to the surviving family (if I’m remembering correctly). I put Harlem River Blues on my playlist back in January, and I still never skip that track. I didn’t actually pay much attention to JTE when he was alive, but now I’m familiar with quite a few songs.
November 26, 2021 @ 12:25 pm
I hope they record this tribute concert and release a live version to further benefit his daughter.
November 26, 2021 @ 3:24 pm
His Harlem River Blues album in particular will make sure he’s never forgotten around these here parts of Southern Europe. That album is so perfect that I’m left wishing I had Trigger’s ability to express how perfect that album is.
November 26, 2021 @ 5:18 pm
Great article. JTE was my gateway into actual good country music. I used to wear his albums out and still do from time to time. Saw him a few times but the best was by far at Callaghan’s in Mobile. Only about 40 people in attendance in a small bar. It was amazing and I will forever remember that night.
November 26, 2021 @ 7:15 pm
Lucero, The Old 97s, and JTE were the main people that got me into alt-country a decade+ ago. The Good Life and Midnight at the Movies are still two of the best alt-country records ever released as far as I’m concerned.
November 27, 2021 @ 9:19 am
I’m with you. Midnight at the Movies is probably the album I go back to the most from my country music discovery period. JTE along with Bob Wayne and Hank 3 really got me listening. As much as I love all their stuff, Midnight at the Movies is really special to me.
November 27, 2021 @ 10:17 am
2009 Saving Country Music Album of the Year, Justin Townes Earle, “Midnight At The Movies.”
Sometimes I get ’em right.
Kyle is a douche
November 28, 2021 @ 8:36 pm
Gotta somehow make it about you, right Kyle?
November 28, 2021 @ 8:47 pm
Just agreeing with some readers that “Midnight at the Movies” is a killer record. Justin Townes Earle deserves all the credit for that.
P.S.: I’m deleting the comment you left under another alias where you refer to Justin as a “junky.” Thanks for bringing more negativity and hatred to the world.
December 4, 2021 @ 11:52 am
JTE at Callaghan’s in 2015. He played the venue something like 20 times. He was beloved by the staff and owner there. He loved the venue and opted to play there even when he could have played the much larger Saenger Theatre.
November 26, 2021 @ 6:23 pm
Quick fun story: I’m a huge fan of JTE but only saw him once at city winery. Got a sick poster and was looking forward to it being signed. My ex, after realizing he wasn’t gonna show, grabs my poster, walks back into venue, gets past security and straight up walks into the green room. Justin was apparently super kind to her, laughed his ass off about the situation, did a great personalized message as it was my birthday that day and told her they don’t make many women like her. The poster is one of my few prized possessions! I will note he was having a rough night for that show. Played well but you could tell he was off. It was so great to hear that alone and one on one he treated her so well. Makes ya realize how tough crawling on stage is. RIP
November 26, 2021 @ 10:58 pm
He is known for singing his songs but he was also a very good and original guitar player and could easily play without a band and still be dynamic on stage.
November 26, 2021 @ 11:15 pm
Saw the Michigan Rattlers do a version of Rogers Park at Saint Andrew’s Hall tonight in Detroit. I think JTE would’ve been proud of their rendition. Although I don’t know much about him, they’ve turned me on to his music and his story. Prayers for his family.
November 27, 2021 @ 1:07 am
I met Juston briefly in Houston & he was down to earth & Friendly… so sorry to hear of his passing… RIP
November 27, 2021 @ 1:53 pm
Bought a ticket for the Ryman show the day they went up for sale. JTE’s music meant a lot to me, and I feel like this is how I can pay my respects. This one still really hurts…
November 29, 2021 @ 8:58 am
“One More Night In Brooklyn” resonates with me, incl hints of his old man when singing “let ’em say what they’ll say..”
November 29, 2021 @ 9:34 pm
Harlem River Blues is a classic, I prefer it to Midnight at the movies. His later albums were pretty disappointing considering how well his career started. Don’t do drugs, kids.
November 30, 2021 @ 7:46 pm
I met JTE at Cactus Records in Houston years ago. I told him I was in awe of his guitar playing. I said I assumed he learned a lot from his Dad and he said “no, I learned from watching Lightning Hopkins videos on Youtube” Don’t know if he was pullin my leg…