If Bruce Springsteen had a redneck cousin with comparable talent in the songwriting department, he’d likely sound a lot like Steve Earle. A proud Texan with real-life narrative like no other, Earle has logged a lot of hard years (and a few months in prison). You can hear it in his voice, which has become more complex as it’s grown wearier with age. The title of Earle’s latest CD, the Grammy-nominated I’ll Never Get Out of This World Alive, is rugged, outspoken American roots music at its finest. For his show at Phoenixville’s Colonial Theatre, Earle will offer acoustic renditions of songs spanning his 25-year career. Visit thecolonialtheatre.com. —Hobart Rowland
“I am not fine,” says Emmy Rane. “Someone is out there with my baby.” Rane, the central character of Beth Kephart’s You Are My Only, experiences a mother’s worst nightmare when her child is taken away from her in an instant. More than a decade later, reclusive teen Sophie searches for clues from her past and discovers life-changing secrets along the way. With a story seemingly ripped from the headlines, the award-winning author and Main Line Today contributor spares readers the sensationalism and, instead, seamlessly weaves the dual narratives into a plot that races toward a stunning finish. —Emily Riley
Though the execution may be inconsistent, what all of the 16 short stories collected here share is an undeniable sense of place. In certain cases, the settings will seem familiar to anyone well acquainted with the natural beauty, traditions and day-to-day quirks of life in our western suburbs. The backgrounds of the writers vary, and some have never been published until now. Think of it as a sampler of sorts—and an often tasty one. —Hobart Rowland
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