By Kevin Wilson
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Tim Easton proclaims on his last album that he is getting older and just now learning who he is. Anyone with ears can recognize what <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" />Easton is — a folk singer with rock ’n’ roll sensibilities in the tradition of Bob Dylan. It is also obvious from his recordings that Easton is something of a restless pilgrim. Accordingly, when not in his desert home, Easton is usually wandering across the face of the earth playing music the way he has done for much of his life.
In a phone interview, Easton offered some perspective. “I was born in upstate New York. And my dad worked for Goodyear, so I actually grew up in Ohio before I began to really ramble. But it seems that I mostly got my education playing music on the streets of Europe. Occasionally I’d get a job when I absolutely had to. It sounds pretentious but I was a true troubadour. Still am. Except now I mostly play indoors.”
Easton felt the lure of this lifestyle from a young age. As he remembers, “I think by the time I was in sixth or seventh grade I sensed that music would be a large part of my life. Early on I had been absorbing the stuff that I heard through my older siblings … artists like Blind Lemon Jefferson, The Beatles, Doc Watson and Townes Van Zandt … but when I first heard Woody Guthrie, something really clicked.”
In the spirit of Guthrie, Easton has never shied away from tough issues. His albums have been consistently lauded for their gorgeous melodies but also because they reference such volatile figures as Eldridge Cleaver and George W. Bush.
Not surprisingly, Easton’s current (and fourth) solo record, Ammunition, is loaded with political protests and bits of theological reflection alongside tunes celebrating love and newfound sobriety. Collectively, these songs are all, for Easton, simply truths that had to be stated.
In the end, Easton is just relieved that, as bad as things might get, “at least no one is going to put me up against a wall somewhere for saying the things I say. They will either disagree with the message or agree and arise from their slumber.”
Tim Easton performs Saturday March 1st in the Parish Hall of St. Francis of Assisi Church (1960 Bardstown Rd.). Tula leader Ray Smith, Louisville songwriter John Mann, and alt-country favorite Todd Snider will also appear.
For more details call 456-6394.