Live Review: Steve Earle & The Dukes @ The Birchmere — 7/20/21

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Steve Earle performs at The Birchmere on July 20, 2021. (Photo by Ari Strauss)

Steve Earle has been playing The Birchmere regularly for decades, since even before his debut album, 1986’s Guitar Town. He first visited the famed northern Virginia venue when he was playing bass in his mentor’s, Guy Clark, band. (Steve’s other mentor was the brilliant but deeply troubled songwriter Townes Van Zandt.) On Tuesday evening, Earle and his band, The Dukes (get it? it’s a pun on the early rockabilly song “Duke of Earl”) played the first of two nights at the club.

In the three and a half decades since the release of Guitar Town,  Steve Earle has created a deeply respected and wide-ranging body of work. A self-described “cult artist,” his songwriting is held in the highest esteem by other writers, musicians, and artists. Although Steve may have left school after the eighth grade, his work is informed by a prodigious mind that delves incessantly into literature, history, and current politics. There’s a fearsome intelligence in his work, which has been noted by interviewers like Chris Shifflett, who has hosted Earle several times on his podcast, Walking the Floor

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Preview: Steve Earle & The Dukes @ The Birchmere, 7/20 + 7/21/21

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Steve Earle (Photo courtesy New West Records)

Steve Earle & The Dukes pay tribute to Steve’s late son, Justin Townes Earle (J.T.), who passed away on Aug. 20, 2020, in Nashville with their new album J.T. The album was released digitally on what would have been Justin’s 39th birthday on Jan. 4, via New West Records.

On July 20 and 21, Steve Earle & The Dukes perform two nights of shows at The Birchmere in Alexandria, Va. (Buy tix for the first night OR buy tix for second night.)

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Live Review: Peter Rowan’s Free Mexican Airforce @ The Birchmere — 7/12/21

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Peter Rowan (Photo by Tim Benko)

Peter Rowan has played at The Birchmere many, many times. His career spans six decades, beginning in the early 1960s, when he was a member of Bill Monroe’s Bluegrass Boys. During that time, he wrote the bluegrass classic “Walls of Time,” which he shared with the audience on Monday night in his latest turn at storied venue in Alexandria, Virginia.

Since his time in the Bluegrass Boys, Peter has played with a number of bands and artists that encompasses the range of roots music. He joined David ‘Dawg’ Grisman in Earth Opera, a band that was sort of an East Coast Grateful Dead, and he later joined up with the Dead’s Jerry Garcia in Old & In The Way. Somewhere in there, he was also a member of the eclectic group Seatrain.

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Live Review: Asleep at the Wheel @ The Birchmere — 7/8/21

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Asleep at the Wheel performs at The Birchmere on July 8, 2021. (Photo by Casey Vock)

For five decades, Austin’s Asleep at the Wheel has carried the torch for Western swing. Winners of 10 Grammys, they’ve collaborated with everyone from Willie Nelson to Jamey Johnson to Huey Lewis. to Old Crow Medicine Show.

Despite playing what is “hard-core country music,” the Wheel has long attracted fans who don’t normally feel drawn to country. Part of this is the great divide between country through the ’50s and the Nashville sound that succeeded it. As Tyler Mahan Coe has said on his podcast Cocaine & Rhinestones, there’s no real distinction between honky-tonk and early rock ‘n’ roll. Asleep at the Wheel may have fiddles, but they also have drums and sax, and they rock hard.

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Live Review: The Allman Betts Band @ The Birchmere — 6/13/21

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The Allman Betts Band performs at The Birchmere on June 13. (Photo by Mark Caiedo)

When Devon Allman invited guitarist Linwood Taylor to the stage, he joked that three guitars were not enough; they needed four onstage at The Birchmere on Sunday night.

And so, The Allman Betts Band carried on the multi-guitar Southern rock jam tradition pioneered by their fathers in The Allman Brothers Band. Devon Allman, the son of the late Gregg Allman, sings lead vocals, plays guitar, and leads the band. Duane Betts, the son of legendary guitarist Dickey Betts, also sings and plays guitar.  Berry Duane Oakley plays his father’s instrument, the bass. Johnny Stachela is on the third guitar, John Ginty is on keys, and R. Scott Bryan and John Lum comprise the group’s dual percussion attack.

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Live Review: Jay Blakesberg (Grateful Dead Photography) @ The Birchmere — 6/9/21

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Jay Blakesberg displays his latest book, “Eyes of the World – Grateful Dead Photography – 1965-1995,” at The Birchmere on June 9, 2021. (Photo by Casey Vock)

How would our memories serve us in life without the assistance of photography? What would the realm of live music look like without the historical record provided by the photographs that serve as hard evidence of what has and who have come before us?

Jay Blakesberg knows from more than 40 years of experience that the duty of a live music photographer is, as he refers to it, “visual anthropology.” A native of New Jersey born in 1961, Jay is a guiding force in the world of both live music photography and musician portraiture, having worked with a staggering list of some of the most well-known musicians on the planet and seen his photos published across a universe of media.

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Preview: The Allman Betts Band @ The Birchmere, 6/13/21

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The Allman Betts Band (Photo by Kaelan Barowsky)

The Allman Betts Band are on the road, and they will perform at The Birchmere on Sunday, June 13!

This must-see fusing of impressive musical talent was fated before the band was even born. You see, bandmates Devon Allman, Duane Betts, and Berry Duane Oakley are the sons of their namesake founding members of the Allman Brothers Band ( — Gregg Allman, Dickey Betts, and Berry Oakley, that is).

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Preview: Between The Dark and Light: The Grateful Dead Photography of Jay Blakesberg @ The Birchmere, 6/9/21

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Between The Dark and Light: is a fast paced slideshow/storytelling presentation featuring rock-and-roll photographer Jay Blakesberg, who shares many stories from his amazing 40+ year career photographing the Grateful Dead experience. During this 90-minute presentation, the charismatic and funny Blakesberg regales attendees with photos and stories related to his epic rock-and-roll American Dream story.

Catch Jay’s presentation at The Birchmere on Wednesday, June 9!

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Snapshots: Robert Earl Keen @ The Birchmere — 1/28/21

REK Robert Earl Keen performs at The Birchmere in Alexandria, Va., Jan. 28, 2021. (Photo by Ari Strauss)

Texas troubadour Robert Earl Keen recently put on two performances at legendary Alexandria, Virginia, music venue, The Birchmere, on Jan. 27 and 28. Traveling with a scaled down version of his usual road band, Robert performed as an acoustic trio which included himself on lead vocals and guitar, Kym Warner on mandolin and backing vocals, and Tom Van Schaik on drums and percussion.

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