John Henry Earle, the 13-year-old son of Steve Earle and Allison Moorer, has many friends, as demonstrated by all the musicians that have played benefit concerts for his school since 2015. John Henry was born in April 2010 and was diagnosed with autism before age two. Since age three, he has attended the Keswell School, an institution founded in New York City in 2003 to educate students with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) from preschool through age 21.
Nine years ago, the Keswell School was in financial straits and Steve Earle came to its rescue by organizing what has become a series of benefit concerts. Since 2015, the three-time Grammy-winning singer-songwriter has raised awareness on autism and funds for the school through annual concerts. Bruce Springsteen, David Byrne, Kurt Vile, Graham Nash, Emmylou Harris, Rosanne Cash, Lucinda Williams, Jason Isbell, Amanda Shires, and many more country and Americana musicians have performed at these concerts.
This year’s benefit featured simple sets by Steve Earle, John Mellencamp, Amy Helm, David Bromberg, and Matt Savage (none of whom played with full bands). Savage, who has opened many of these benefit concerts and has taught at the Keswell School, performed solo on the piano. Amy Helm was accompanied by two musicians on guitar and piano. Bromberg performed solo until his final song. Mellencamp performed with two backing musicians on guitar and accordion. Earle performed solo with just an acoustic guitar or mandolin. This year’s concert ended as it does every year, with Earle and the other performers singing Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young’s “Teach Your Children.”
As has been the case with each of the previous John Henry’s Friends Benefit concerts, all net ticket proceeds from this event will be donated to the Keswell School. Founded on the belief that children diagnosed with ASD can live full and productive lives as integrated members of their communities, the Keswell School provides educational, therapeutic and supportive services for children diagnosed with ASD and their families.
Photos by Everynight Charley
Matt Savage Setlist
You Must Believe in Spring (Michel Legrand cover)
The Savage Life Chose Me
Tainted Love (Gloria Jones cover)
Amy Helm Setlist
Didn’t It Rain ([traditional] cover)
Atlantic City (Bruce Springsteen cover)
David Bromberg Setlist
Big Road Blues (Tommy Johnson cover)
It Takes a Lot to Laugh, It Takes a Train to Cry (Bob Dylan cover)
Watch Baby Fall
Helpless Blues (David Bromberg Band song, with Steve Earle, Amy Helm, and Matt Savage)
John Mellencamp Setlist
The Eyes of Portland
Steve Earle Setlist
If I Should Fall from Grace with God (The Pogues cover)
The Devil’s Right Hand
Teach Your Children (Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young cover) (with David Bromberg, Amy Helm, and Matt Savage)