Townes Van Zandt is often referred to as a “songwriter’s songwriter” (Courtesy Photo).

Townes Van Zandt is often referred to as a “songwriter’s songwriter” (Courtesy Photo).

A tribute to Townes Van Zandt offers timeless songs

The show will feature a lineup of performers and mark the 75th birthday of the singer-songwriter.

Note: An earlier version of the story did not reflect a change in the lineup of artists for the event. It has been edited to reflect that Gregg Curry has joined the cast. Michael Shapiro, who was included in the earlier version of the story, will not perform in the show.

A night of music will honor the brilliant but troubled Texas troubadour Townes Van Zandt at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, March 7, at Vashon Theatre.

The show, “Love Me Some Townes Van Zandt,” will feature a lineup of performers including Star Anna, Mike Dumovich, Jeff Kanzler, Kat Eggleston, John Browne, Danny Newcomb, Rebekah Kuzma, Roger Taylor, Gary Westlake, Mike Nichols, Dan Tyack and Gregg Curry. All will sing their favorite songs written by Van Zandt.

The night will mark the 75th birthday of the singer-songwriter, who died in 1997 at the age of 52. His music lives on, with songs like “Pancho and Lefty,” “I’ll Be There in the Morning,” “If I Needed You,” and a catalog of other music that has inspired countless musicians, poets and writers.

Americana music icon Steve Earle once said, “Townes Van Zandt is the best songwriter in the world, and I’ll stand on Bob Dylan’s coffee table in my cowboy boots and say that.”

Van Zandt’s songs have been recorded by the likes of Steve Earle, Bob Dylan, Willie Nelson, Merle Haggard, Norah Jones, Emmylou Harris, Robert Earl Keen Jr., Guy Clark and Gillian Welch. His life has also been the subject of books and a highly regarded documentary film, “Be Here to Love Me.”

Van Zandt lived a life scarred by addictions and mental illness, and his songs often reflect the themes of high Texan gothic tragedy. Still, they are also, at times, filled with wry self reflection.

Of his songs and his life, Van Zandt once famously said “I don’t know why I write really depressing songs. I’m a kind of melancholy guy, I suppose. But I figure I’m about normal.”

Debra Heesch, the islander who is producing “Love Me Some Townes Van Zandt,” first became enamored with his music years ago, when she hosted what she called “hootenannies” in her home for well-known Seattle players. Van Zandt’s songs were frequently played, and an idea was born — to produce evenings of song in tribute to the melancholy, poetic music legend.

This will be the third time Heesch has produced the Townes tribute on Vashon. It has also taken place twice at the Tractor Tavern in Seattle, each time with different groups of musicians. Tickets, $15, are available at the theater box office or vashontheatre.com.

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