The Life and Times of Tim
Veteran folkmaster rides the road from Columbus to Nashville and back
By Adam ScoppaPublished November 1, 2012
Mid-conversation with folk-rock songsmith Tim Easton, he politely asks me to hold while he deals with a misunderstanding at a rental car agency in Joshua Tree, California.
“Sorry about that; that’s a bit of the road for you right there,” he laughs.
Easton doesn’t live in Joshua Tree anymore; he’s been a Nashville resident for just under a year. But the rental car is taking him back – to play the Joshua Tree Music Festival and to absorb some familiar scenery and hang with old friends.
“At the risk of sounding like California got to me, it’s definitely a mystical, magical place,” Easton said. “It’s a sacred place, too. People come here and get inspired by it; sometimes they get terrified by it.”
The Columbus ex-pat has been a road warrior from just about the time he first picked up a guitar. In the late ’80s and early ’90s, he spent a total of seven years dividing his time between Columbus and traversing Europe as a street musician, “to basically learn how to write songs and gather experiences that ended up being a part of the songs,” he said. “It was a really transitory, gypsy kind of experience, living in squats and youth hostels. I worked where I could, making my way around, learning about other cultures, listening to and absorbing as much music as I could.”
The experiences he culled from his wanderlust helped to shape his brand of educated, sentimental roots rock: part ramshackle country blues, part big-sky Laurel Canyon romanticism, a style that seems unsusceptible to the fickle nature of popular music trends. It’s also made him internationally known and respected. The world will always have a place for an honest guitar troubadour, and Easton fits the bill like a pair of old work boots.
“All music fads revolve,” he mused. “It’s very cyclical. There’s always some kind of Midwestern slant to what I do. I picked up some of that attitude for sure. It’s hard to shake it in a town like Nashville, where perfection is part of the gig. I did come from a bit more of a rough-and-tumble, basement kind of vibe. It is something that stays with you.
“Columbus is my college town; it always feels good to tear it up there and have fun there,” he added. “In many ways I’m still the same college kid. I don’t know how much I’ve matured.”
Easton will trace back his Columbus roots with a show at The Bluestone this month, a bill that also features local cowpunk darling Lydia Loveless, and local country rockers Mooncussers. After that, Easton will maintain a steady presence on the road in the midst of three upcoming recording projects, including Out Of Our Tree, a new outfit he’s formed with former Columbus fiddler Megan Palmer.
“I can’t seem to bring myself to stop,” he said. “I’m not afraid of the half-full house. I like to go out there and work and bring it to the people, because every night’s different. I’m a slow learner, but I’ve gotten a lot better at getting people to forget about life a little bit.”
Rumba Cafe Promotions Presents Tim Easton, Patrick Sweany, Lydia Loveless, and Mooncussers, 9 p.m. November 21st at The Bluestone, 583 E Broad St. For tickets and more information, visit www.liveatthebluestone.com.