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Music Review – Steve Earle and the Dukes

18 Nov

– by Ian McDonald

Steve Earle and the Dukes [and Duchesses] featuring Allison Moorer – Glasgow O2 Academy, 27th Oct.

“If you got a Boss, you need a Union.”

About halfway through the show, Steve Earle made the comment ‘If you got a Boss, you need a Union’ after talking about what was happening in the USA to the union movement, particularly the attacks on collective bargaining in Wisconsin and Maine.

This tour is Steve’s first with a band in about six years and his first at the O2 Academy, his usual preferred Glasgow venue being the Barrowlands, where, as he put it, the floor and the audience bounce. He also stated that this gig showed why he and other musicians like playing to Glasgow audiences.

Since the last tour with the Dukes, Steve has moved from Nashville to New York, re-invented himself as a Greenwich Village based folk singer with the album Washington Square Serenade and made an album of Townes Van Zandt songs (Townes) and also found the time to be a political activist, actor and author.

Steve has toured almost constantly for the last few years, either with wife Allison Moorer or solo, and over the last year with this new band, which is one of the most versatile line-ups there could be – at one point a Celtic folk rock band with Johnny come lately , the next a hard rock outfit with great versions of The Revolution starts now and Taneytown. And then a bluegrass band: the version of The Mountain had exquisite harmonies from the Dukes and Duchesses.

On bass and drums with the band were long time Dukes, Kelly Looney and Will Rigby and on vocals, guitar, pedal steel, mandolin was Chris Masterton along with Eleanor Whitmore on fiddle, guitar and vocals. Allison Moore completes the line-up on guitars, accordion and keyboards and her featured version of the Sam Cooke soul classic A change is gonna come was powerful and intense and quietened the chattering members of the Glasgow audience for a while.

The latest album I’ll never get out of this world alive shares its title with the novel he has just brought out and also refers back to the Hank Williams’ song of the same name. The album is a great collection of songs which in the main deal with mortality. 57 year old Steve and Allison Moorer have a son who is just over a year old, and who Steve plans to take to Yankees games. The O2 show started with Waiting for the sky to fall, the opening track from the new album. The first half was being recorded by Radio Scotland for the Ricky Ross ‘Another Country’ programme and consisted of a few tracks from the new album, Little Emperor with its reference to George W Bush and The Gulf of Mexico inspired by the BP Gulf of Mexico oil disaster and a mixture of other songs from Steve’s career.

The show lasted nearly three hours and the favourites were played – Guitar Town, Someday, My old friend the blues, Copperhead Road, Galway Girl and after two encores including Bob Dylan’s It takes a lot to laugh, Steve and the band came out to the merchandise stand to sign CDs and books.

I have seen Steve Earle on a number of occasions and at the O2 Academy the Hard Core Troubadour and his band were on top form and the Glasgow audience enjoyed a top class combination of political activism and great songs.



TUC bid for chart success – your support is needed

18 Nov

Ahead of the Day of Action on 30 November, the TUC has brought together a group of public sector staff as The Workers to re-record the classic song Let’s Work Together as a charity track that celebrates everything that is good about the public sector and raises money for today’s pensioners.

The song will be launched on Monday 21 November to chart on Sunday 27 November – the week of the TUC Day of Action.

The Workers are 14-strong and include a firefighter, probation officers, a teacher, civil servant, social worker, student support officer and health service staff including a nurse, midwives, a physiotherapist and a clinical engineer.

The aim of the song is to get people talking about the importance of the public sector and its staff in a week when the government wants to focus on union bashing.

The single will also raise money for charity. A major part of the sale price, equivalent to about 40p out of the 99p cost in most outlets, will be donated by the TUC to Age UK to show support for today’s pensioners.

Let’s Work Together will be available to download from 2pm on Sunday 20 November on itunes, amazon and other major online retail outlets. Further information about the band and how to buy the single is available at

The more singles that are bought, the higher the chart placing and the more attention the song will get. This is why we need your support!

Ways for people to support the song:

Create a buzz ahead of the release of the song by posting the website on to Facebook / twitter and forwarding the link to friends, family colleagues.

Encourage people to buy the song next week by re-tweeting info about your favourite band member, posting the website on facebook and asking your favourite radio station to play the song.

You can also follow @ItsTheWorkers on twitter, or like them on Facebook.