Last night, on a beautiful summer night in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Steve Earle and The Dukes -along with special guests The Whitmore Sisters- took to the stage of the Burton Cummings Theatre. As the clock struck 8:00 p.m., the man of the hour, Steve Earle, braced the stage to welcome the near-sold-out crowd to the show. As the last of the audience arrived at their seats, Earle welcomed his openers, The Whitmore Sisters, to the stage to commence the evening of country, folk, and rock. The Whitmore Sisters -comprised of the sister duo of Bonnie and Eleanor Whitmore and accompanied by guitarist Chris Masterson- played a swift, satisfying, but short thirty-minute or so set of original music.
The Whitmore Sisters. Photos by Samuel Stevens Photography.
Following The Whitmore Sisters was the man everyone came to see, Steve Earle, and his band, The Dukes. Earle and The Dukes. Eleanor Whitmore and Chris Masterson are also a part of The Dukes, so they rejoined Earle on stage. The remainder of The Dukes consists of bassist Jeff Hill, pedal steel guitarist Ricky Jay Jackson, and drummer Brad Pemberton. As soon as the band hit the first note, you could notice how Steve Earle and The Dukes brought out the incredibly high energy of the Winnipeg fans. It was very noticeable that it's been a long five years since Steve Earle and The Dukes performed in Winnipeg and that the audience was in need of seeing the group perform.
Earlier this year, Earle and his band released the third and final of his trilogy of cover albums of artists that built him into the artist he is today. On his brand new album, Jerry Jeff, he recorded several covers of his favourite Jerry Jeff Walker tunes. Steve Earle and The Dukes performed a lengthy set of songs for the rowdy Winnipeg audience. The lengthy setlist was chock full of tunes from Jerry Jeff, but Earle didn't hold out on performing his big fan favourites for his Winnipeg fans. As the set progressed through the night, the crowd became more and more boisterous when the band began to perform their favourite tracks they purchased a ticket to hear live.
Steve Earle and The Dukes. Photos by Samuel Stevens Photography.
There's a long list of words to convey the atmosphere within the Burton Cummings Theatre last night, but I'll describe it as favourable, delightful, and rambunctious. That's easily the best way to describe the Winnipeg fans too. The audience last night was certainly a pleasure for the two acts to perform in front of. Hopefully, it doesn't take Steve Earle and The Dukes another five years to come to the city -not that two of the last five years were even able for artists and bands to tour. Coming out of the height of the pandemic, the band and crowd were eager to show up and funny enough, both gave what they have been longing -a stellar performance.