Arts Desk

Crazy Hearts: Justin Townes Earle and Joe Pug @ Birchmere on Sunday

jte20

The Hurt Locker, Jeff Bridges, Sandra Bullock, Christopher Waltz, Mo’Nique.

There, I just freed up your Sunday night. Wanna go see some excellent music instead?

Actually, if Bridges gets any Oscar love, it bodes well for the status of the guitar-toting troubadour in America’s cultural mythology—and, perhaps, for the prospects of Joe Pug and Justin Townes Earle. Both are country-folk musicians in their twenties, but you won't see either singing duets with Taylor Swift at the Verizon Center anytime soon. Each is decidedly old-fashioned: Earle with his Texas-country pedigree, throwback formality, and affection for honky tonk; and Pug with his sparse arrangements, linear songwriting, and lonely-guy-with-a-guitar aesthetic.

Both put on a good show. Earle is a ham who can set you to dancing with nothing but a tightly syncopated picking pattern. Pug, who toured last summer with Earle’s famous dad, just put out what I described the other week as an anticlimactic debut LP, but his lyrics will still sock you in the gut.

More so than Kathryn Bigelow’s acceptance speech. I promise.

JUSTIN TOWNES EARLE W/ JOE PUG, BIRCHMERE (Map), MARCH 7, 7:30 P.M., $22.50

Photo courtesy of Flickr user mjbialis.

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