South Texas native Charley Crockett isn’t just a blues artist. He’s a traveling man, an everywhere man. (Fun fact: he’s also a descendant of Davy Crockett!) After train-hopping across the country, singing on the streets in New Orleans, busking in New York City, and performing across Texas and Northern California, Charley traveled the world and lived on the streets of Paris for nearly a year before searching for home in Spain, Morocco, and Northern Africa.
He returned to Texas and released his debut album “A Stolen Jewel” in 2015. His sophomore album “In the Night” dropped earlier this summer. Charley blends Texas country and Louisiana blues roots into his sound. If you’re in the DFW area, you can catch Charley performing at the Dallas Museum of Art on Friday Aug. 19 at 10 p.m. He will also be on tour this fall.
Interview questions by ChinLin Pan
What was the inspiration for “In the Night”?
Charley Crockett: Life is a pilgrimage full of trials and tribulations. The songs I write are a testament to my struggles and the strength I’ve found to overcome them. Once you reach the River Jordan you’ve got to cross. You gotta walk through the dark to be in the light.
How does “In the Night” differ from your debut album “A Stolen Jewel”?
Charley: “A Stolen Jewel” was recorded in an old farm house next to a wood stove way up in the hills. It’s acoustic and loose. “In The Night” is more electric. It has the vibrancy of New Orleans, Austin, and Dallas in it. It sounds like a country boy showed up in the city and made a record.
Who did you listen to growing up?
Charley: The first cassette tape I ever bought was a B.B. King greatest hits. “Lean On Me” by Bill Withers was easily one of my favorite songs and still is today. I remember loving Woodie Guthrie when ever I heard him.
You’re a South Texas native. You grew up in Dallas. Now you reside in Austin. What do you love about having lived in different parts of Texas?
Charley: Texas has many faces. I feel connected to the land and have love for the amazing diversity of culture here. It feels like a country in a lot of ways. They say you gotta have a lot of soul to live in Texas and that’s definitely true if you wanna make a living traveling all around it.
You’ve traveled around the U.S. and to several countries around the world. How have those experiences and different cultures influenced your music?
Charley: I’ve found that there are so many kindhearted people in this world. Folks who have the least seem to give the most. Traveling has motivated me to embrace my roots as a way to express myself in any environment and to have an open heart and mind to new ideas.
Now that you have two albums out, do you ever find yourself feeling nostalgic for the days when you played on the streets? Just curious, since you’ve played in so many cities!
Charley: There’s a part of me that’s always playing on the streets. In my dreams I’m living hand in mouth on The corner of Toulouse and Royal street in The French Quarter or playing on a subway car in New York or Paris. It’s always there. I left all those towns a different person than I was when I showed up.
If you had to pick one music artist–dead or alive–to travel around the world with, who would you pick and why?
Charley: At this second, I would say Billie Holiday. It would be mind bending to see her take over a room with her magic. I’d like to see her sing the blues in a smoke filled bar in Córdoba, Spain or East Dallas.
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