Newspaper Ads in Alaska Target Singer Steve Earle

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By: E&P Staff

Two full-page ads, and a flurry of letters to the editor, have not halted a concert at the Southeast Alaska State Fair by alt-country star (and outspoken political activist) Steve Earle.

Local critics call Earle’s lyrics un-American, even communistic. Some have said he doesn’t fit into the family fair in Haines, and call for a boycott.

All this protest activity in the weekly Chilkat Valley News hasn’t prevented an advance sale of 300 tickets already for the July 30 show. “We’ve never pre-sold that many tickets to anything before,” fair Executive Director Herb VanCleve told another paper. “We’re selling lots of tickets in Whitehorse. We’re selling lots of tickets in Juneau and in Haines.”

Haines’ resident Al Kelly starting writing letters to the editor in early May. “The state fair, they’ve got the animals, the kids and there are so many beautiful things about it,” he said. “To bring this in and dump it in the middle is insulting.”

A longtimer miner and prospector, Merrill Palmer, then jumped in with a full-page paid commentary in the May 19 edition of the Chilkat Valley News, titled “A heads up to my fellow citizens.? Another anti-Earle ad appeared June 16. He suggested Earle was a communist and asked if those in Haines would have turned out for a Nazi.

But VanCleve said the negative attention seems to have generated a rush of radio play for Earle in Haines. “The general reaction I’ve gotten from virtually everyone has been 100 percent in support of what the fair is doing,” VanCleve said.

Earle is a multiple Grammy winner whose lyrics have turned decidedly left in recent years. His most recent album was called ?The Revolution Starts Now.? It garnered one of those Grammys.

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