We use cookies to improve your experience on our website. Accept | Find out more



String Theory


Inside Ma Umanov Guitars, a shop on Bleecker Street in Manha an full of noodling guitarists, country music legend Steve Earle picks up a very rare Les Paul Custom and starts picking. The room goes quiet.

“1955,” he says, turning it over. “Same year I was born, that’s part of why I love it. I’m getting ready to buy it, but it’s so damn much money that I can’t just whip out a credit card, you know?”

He picks a blues riff and shakes his head. Earle, a medium-size bear of a man with a bushy beard, grandpa glasses and a ferocious, affable wit, moved into the neighborhood five years ago. “I was already kind of a degenerate guitar collector, and then I came here and it’s gotten a lot worse. Man, this one is stupid good, but I already got around 200 guitars. It’s a disease.”

Born in Virginia and raised in Texas, Earle has released dozens of albums, written plays and acted in The Wire and Treme. This month, he releases his first novel, along with an album of the same name, I’ll Never Get Out of This World Alive. He lives just off Washington Square Park with his eighth wife, country singer Allison Moorer, and their 1-year-old son, John Henry.

So how much is the guitar? “Put it this way, I looked at one of these that wasn’t in nearly as good a condition, and that was $30,000.” Then he whispers that this is twice that. He strums the guitar sadly. “Truth is, if I buy this thing I think my wife might kill me.”

July 15-17

CORVALLIS, ORE. • You’ll feel like a real renaissance man or woman strolling from science demonstrations to art exhibitions at the family-friendly da Vinci Days. www.davincidays.org

July 15-17
• Singapore Dance Theatre’s Ballet Under the Stars brings Allegro Brilliante, Serenade and Act II of Swan Lake to Fort Canning Green. www.singaporedancetheatre.com

July 30-Aug. 7
• The gnarliest surfers in the world convene in Huntington Beach this month for the U.S. Open of Surfing (and its $100,000 grand prize). www.usopenofsurfing.com

Aug. 5-7
• The Berlin Bier Festival turns a mile-long alley into the world’s largest beer garden. Craft brewers from around the region will serve a million thirsty revelers. www.bierfestival-berlin.de

Leave your comments