Better Know an Artist (Vol 4): Charley Crockett

Charley Crockett just might be my answer to the question I always ask about favorite local acts people should be looking out for. The guy’s got an awesome throwback sound, blending all sorts of influences from his home states of Texas and Louisiana, you got country, blues, soul, cajun, gospel, a little of everything here. Add to that a cool fashion vibe, a great passion for music history and noteworthy bloodline (descendent of Davy), and you get a pretty cool cat. Anyways, Charley sat down and knocked out some answers to all my questions, and here’s what went down.

Me: For starters, tell us a little about yourself. How did you first get into music? And when did you know this is what you want to do for a living (money be damned)?

CC: I was always singing blues and gospel with my mother when I was a kid. I picked up guitar on the street in New Orleans when I was about 17 and started hitch hiking and hopping trains around the country. Didn’t think much about making music for a living at first. I just wanted to play all the time and that hasn’t changed.

Me: How would you describe your music to someone who hasn’t heard it before?

CC: You could call my music Cajun, Soul, Blues, Gospel, Country, Folk, Swing, R&B, etc, but I like to think of it as Texas and Louisiana music so I don’t have to name so many genres.

Me: Who are some of your biggest musical influences, and why?

CC: It’s difficult for me to nail down my influences to just a couple. I’ve been deeply affected by so many. T-Bone Walker, Fats Domino, Magic Sam, Elmore James, Billie Holiday, Bill Withers, Hank Sr., Loretta Lynn, the Carter Family, Chuck Berry, Etta James, Clifton Chenier, Johnny Cash, Gram Parsons, Lightnin’ Hopkins, prison work songs, and early spirituals just to name a few. I could go on and on.

Me: Which of your songs means the most ot you, and if you don’t mind me asking, why?

CC: I wrote a song called Trinity River on my last record. I feel like the song wrote itself. I was sitting on a bridge over the river and it just came to me all of a sudden. It’s a tribue to the forgotten heritage of this area.

Me: If you could open for any act, dead or alive, who would it be, and why?

CC: Magic Sam!!! No one had his energy. He could sing and play guitar like no one else I’ve ever heard.

Me: Any favorite new musical acts, local or otherwise?

CC: Brennen Leigh down in Austin. She’s my favorite current country/old time artist and man can she pick that guitar! Tomar and the FCs are an amazing old school soul act I just saw for the first time down in Austin at the White Horse Saloon.

Me: What’s your “stranded on an island” record?

CC: Sonny Boy Williamson II the Chess Years Box Set

Me: Moving onto the home front, what are your favorite (and least favorite) things about the DFW music scene?

CC: I like how small the scene is. Towns like New York City, Nashville and Austin can be overwhelming, but Dallas/Fort Worth still has a small town feel as far as the music scene goes. So much talent, even if no one’s there to listen. I love everything about Fort Worth. My least favorite thing about Dallas is the lack of pride in Deep Ellum’s early black music heritage.

Me: Favorite DFW venue to play (or see a show). Why?

CC: It’s a tie for me. The Kessler Theater in Oak Cliff and the Freeman in Deep Ellum. Both venues have magical energy and are doing so much to support the local music community.

Me: Any favorite local acts people should be looking out for?

CC: Vincent Neil Emerson and Kirk Thurmond are two of my favorite local song writers. Pay attention to Alexis Sanchez. He’s a truly gifted guitar player. My favorite local band right now is the Terence Bradfrod Quartet. Mike Morgan is a real deal old school Blues man.

Me: And for shits and giggle, what’s a fun fact that most people don’t know about you?

CC: I had such a bad stutter I could hardly speak until I was 10.

Much love to the man, Charley Crockett. He’s such a passionate soul with deep respect for the rich history of music’s past. Keep an eye out for him. There are big things ahead. You can catch Charley at the Kessler on Sat, Nov 28, opening for Jim Suhler & Monkey Beat. Check out his latest release A Stolen Jewel below and keep an eye out for his new record In the Night, which should be out by the end of the year.

Photo credit: Daniel Driensky @dd_danieldriensky

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