Anyone familiar with Steve Earle will probably not be surprised to find he’s no fan of Walmart.

And to highlight the issues he has with the world’s largest retail chain, he posted a video today and sang a few lines from a new song that contains a line that may or may not be the title, “thinkin’ ’bout burning the Walmart down.” It’s not going to make him any friends in Bentonville, Arkansas (home of Walmart). However, it probably will go over well in L.A. this Saturday (June 30), where a large protest is taking shape to voice disapproval of a planned Walmart in the city’s Chinatown district.

“I am in Nashville, Tennessee making a record, but if I wasn’t, I would love to be in Chinatown, L.A. on June 30,” Earle says in the video. “Y’all stick together out there.” Singer-songwriters Tom Morello and Ben Harper, though, are expected to perform during the L.A. event.

Once one of the hottest young stars on country radio, Steve Earle is an interesting character with a wide stylistic range and unique artistic trajectory. The GRAMMY winner first hit it big during the mid-’80s with songs like “Guitar Town” (a Top Ten country single), “Someday,” and “Sweet Little 66.” (He debuted around the same time as Dwight Yoakam and Randy Travis, and just a few years behind George Strait.)

He then turned to a burlier sound with songs like “Copperhead Road,” which verged on Lynyrd Skynyrd territory. And he also began dabbling in bluegrass, as well as rock and country.

Lately he’s been working well out of the mainstream, though he still has a sizable (and rabid) following. He still has a distinct twang, but he writes and sings folkier material that’s more in the vein of Townes Van Zandt (one of his early influences and musical heroes), Billy Bragg, or Woody Guthrie.

And speaking of Woody, Steve Earle will be hosting the three-day Woodyfest this summer (July 11-13) in New York City, which celebrates the 100th birthday of the famed folk troubadour. Artists on the bill include Billy Bragg, John Hammond, Allen Toussaint, Rachael Yamagata, and The Wood Brothers.

– Kurt Wolff, CBS Local


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