Grammy award-winning singer songwriter Steve Earle and his band, The Dukes, will perform at the Criterion July 31.

Steve Earle and The Dukes to perform at the Criterion

BAR HARBOR — Grammy award-winning singer songwriter Steve Earle and his band, The Dukes, roll into Bar Harbor on Friday, July 31, for a concert at the newly renovated Criterion Theatre.

Earle might be best known for his hits “Guitar Town” and “Copperhead Road,” but as good as those songs are, they by no means capture the depth of the Texas-raised songwriter that some would argue is the best songwriter working today.

Earle honed his craft in Nashville in the late ‘70s, a time when musicians like Willie Nelson, Kris Kristofferson and Waylon Jennings were pushing the boundaries of country music. Their “outlaw country” was in reaction to the slick pop sounds then coming from Music City studios.

In Nashville, the 20-year-old was taken under the wings of Townes Van Zandt and Guy Clark, fellow Texans who became his songwriting mentors. This relationship essentially was an informal master class in writing songs. Earle learned his lessons well. His songs have been recorded by musicians like Johnny Cash, Emmylou Harris, Ricky Skaggs, the late soul-singer Percy Sledge and even The Pretenders.

Some might call Earle a folksinger, a label he himself probably wouldn’t disavow. But his definition of folk music also incorporates country, the blues and straight-ahead rock. The latest of his 16 studio albums, “Terraplane Blues,” was released in February. Recorded with The Dukes, the album features 11 blues-based songs that Earle wrote during a period of separation from his fifth wife, musician Allison Moorer. The album has received favorable reviews including from “Rolling Stone,” where a reviewer wrote that despite the emotional turmoil that spawned the recording, it “is less a soul-searcher than a sturdy vehicle, built to chug through hard times.”

Earle found his first commercial success with his 1986 album “Guitar Town.” One song, “Goodbye’s All We Got Left,” rose to the top 10 on country charts. Two years later, he released “Copperhead Road,” which earned him even greater acclaim. The title track, a tale of a Vietnam vet returning home with “a brand-new plan” remains a staple of classic rock stations.

Earle’s songs would become increasingly politicized. His left-leaning convictions were fully expressed in the 2004 album “The Revolution Starts Now,” which received a Grammy Award for best contemporary folk album. He also received Grammys for “Washington Square Serenade” in 2008, and the following year, for his tribute to Van Zandt, “Townes.”

Opening for Earle and The Dukes are The Mastersons. The Austin, Texas-based husband-and-wife duo has been the lead-off act during numerous Earle tours.

Tickets for the 8 p.m. concert are $25 for the balcony; $20 general admission. Doors open at 6 p.m. Tickets are available online at or by calling the box office at 288-0829.

Mark Good

Mark Good

Reporter at Mount Desert Islander
Mark Good

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