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Justin Townes Earle Explores New Music and New Band

Andy Sheppard, Redferns

Justin Townes Earle may have won plenty of rave reviews for his latest album, ‘Harlem River Blues,’ but he’s not taking anything for granted. Consider his reaction when asked how he celebrated the recent announcement that the album and its title track are nominated for Album and Song of the Year at the 2011 Americana Music Awards.

“There’s nothing to celebrate yet,” Justin tells The Boot, adding that he’ll likely attend the ceremony on October 13 at Nashville’s Ryman Auditorium. “We’re trying to expose this record as much as we can. We’ll see what happens.”

What that means is that Justin is constantly touring behind the album and appearing on numerous TV shows, including the Late Show With David Letterman, while at the same time also planning his next album.

“I do better on the road,” he says, noting how prolific he’s been at crafting new songs. “I am really leaning on gospel and the blues again. I’m actually going to put together a band — me and the bass player and a drummer. I’ll probably play electric guitar. We’ll amp it up a bit.”

While his friend Jason Isbell, frontman of Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit, played guitar when Justin appeared on the ‘Late Show’ and was also one of the guest artists on Justin’s album, don’t expect any co-writing or collaborations with other artists for Justin’s upcoming album.

“Jason and I have been friends for a very long time,” says Justin. “He was free so [having him perform with me] was a no-brainer, [but] I’m not really a big collaborator. I am a really private kind of writer. I want to do a project with this band out in Texas, but that’s down the line. Keeping yourself visible is very important, so that’s what I’m doing.”

For now, though, expect the songs to remain under wraps until Justin fine-tunes them a bit more. That means no road-testing them despite his heavy tour schedule.

“It’s not time yet,” he says. “I want to give the songs a chance before I put them out there, and there are a million different versions now.”

Justin is currently on tour, with his next concert scheduled for June 10 at the Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival in Manchester, Tenn. For more concert news, check here.

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