Nashville radio station Lightning 100’s free concert series. Live on the Green, has become a victim of its own success and sadly, as the late Yogi Berra once said, “Nobody goes there any more, it’s too crowded.” At least, me and my fussy music friends have written LOTG off and left it to the casual music fans who take their dogs and enjoy the food trucks and beer more than they do the tunes.
But this event was going to be my only chance to see Steve Earle & the Dukes on their tour for the Guy record honoring Steve’s late mentor and songwriter extraordinaire, Guy Clark. I knew that I’d have to try and somehow deal with what Steve himself earlier referred to as “Throw-Up on the Green.”
Well, I got to the Main Stage about 20 minutes before Steve’s 5:30 pm start and was shocked that I was able to walk right up to the rail, front and center. A combination of the heat, the Labor Day holiday and Earle no longer a prime part of the radio station’s demographic, were the likely causes of this late afternoon indifference. Although I was at home long before they took the stage, fans for the evening’s headliner, the more Millennial-friendly Lake Street Dive did manage to cover the entire green lawn.
Knowing time was tight, the Dukes took the stage promptly and I heard Steve mutter “Oh, there’s the sun.” And, for the next hour, the center of our solar system meandered behind clouds and buildings giving us an occasional, but nowhere near often enough respite from the day’s heat. Why there is a code amongst rockers to not wear short sleeves and short pants, I just don’t understand.
Wasting no time, Steve and the band opened with perhaps the four best known Guy Clark songs interspersed with the now famous “pork” story about the last time he met with Clark. From there, it was a mix of the expected (the two songs you hear on Lightning 100, “Guitar Town” and “Copperhead Road”) and a few I’ve yet to hear Steve play live.
It was a fine but short set from Steve and his Dukes, still one of the live best bands performing today. I hope that some of the youngsters in the crowd today came away with a boost to their musical education.
- Dublin Blues (Guy Clark cover)
- Heartbroke (Guy Clark cover)
- Desperados Waiting for a Train (Guy Clark cover)
- A. Freeway (Guy Clark cover)
- Feel Alright
- Guitar Town
- Copperhead Road
- Baby’s Just as Mean as Me
- Billy and Bonnie
- Galway Girl
- That’s All You Got
- Transcendental Blues
- So, You Wannabe an Outlaw
- Hey Joe (Billy Roberts cover)
Steve Earle—vocals, electric guitar and mandolin
Chris Masterson— electric guitar
Eleanor Whitmore—fiddle, mandolin and backing vocals
Ricky Ray Jackson—pedal steel guitar