Right from the beginning, Steve Earle channeled the spirit of Woody Guthrie, noting that we need him now more than ever. Out of all the artists at the Newport Folk Festival, Earle's invocation is the most appropriate — he certainly would have fit in well at the festival's inception. Here, he stood solo with an acoustic guitar, singing about downtrodden American characters and a desperate need for change.
Halfway through the set, Earle's wife and musical partner, Allison Moorer, joined him on stage. Moorer sang gorgeous harmonies with Earle throughout the concert's remainder, and led her own "Mockingbird" solo.
Earle made his debut in 1986 with Guitar Town and quickly turned out a string of country hits. At the time, he was often compared to Bruce Springsteen and widely viewed as a savior of country music. But after a four-year drought in the early '90s — the product of his drug addiction and imprisonment — Earle came back with a string of highly praised albums. His marriage to Moorer two years ago and his move to New York City have helped inspire Washington Square Serenade, which he calls a collection of love songs to his wife and his new home. The two now frequently share their song catalogs on stage together.