Steve Earle’s debt to cult singer-songwriter Townes Van Zandt is immeasurable. Van Zandt championed Earle during his struggling-artist years, and Earle even named one of his sons after the troubled troubadour (who drank and drugged himself to death when he was 52). In a way, Earle’s entire career has been a tribute to Van Zandt — from his plaintive storytelling to his turbulent personal history. But Earle’s most recent album, Townes, is his first full-length tribute. The 15-track survey of Van Zandt’s finest compositions starts with a low-key version of his best-known song, “Pancho and Lefty,” a country hit for Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard in the ’80s. Throughout Townes, Earle shifts between solo acoustic retellings and band-assisted electric fury, sticking pretty close to Van Zandt’s templates. He’s at his best — like on the meditative “No Place to Fall” and “To Live Is to Fly” — when Van Zandt is at his best. Joe Purdy opens at 8 p.m. at the Kent Stage (175 E. Main St., 330.677.5005). Tickets: $30 advance, $33 day of show. — Michael Gallucci
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