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To say that ursine troubadour Steve Earle has devoted fans is a life-threatening understatement. Over the years, I’ve gushed about his albums, praised his political appearances, and scavenged the thesaurus when nattering on about his canonical stature in the dusty world of roots-rock. Got that? I dig the guy. And yet almost every time I’ve typed his name, I’ve heard back via surly fans’ letters and e-mails—and even a phone call at home at 8:30 on a Sunday morning—that I still wasn’t rah-rah enough. I also shiver at a memory from not too long ago when Earle was at a peaceful luncheon about land mines. He was guzzling from a giant Diet Dr Pepper like a grizzly from a stream, and after his last syrupy swallow…I almost got stabbed with a fork when fans clamored for his empty. I’ll be the one in Kevlar tonight when Earle plays with Garrison Starr at 7:30 p.m. at the 9:30 Club, 815 V St. NW. $25. (202) 393-0930. (Sean Daly)