Check in with us as we highlight certain artists that are featured in the 11th Hour. Of course, you can always hear them on air with us too!
Charley Crockett grew up in Texas with that name, a mother straight out of a Haggard narrative, and a Louisiana uncle who taught him the finer points of street life. To say his upbringing was hard would be cliché. Take the surname– being a Crockett in Texas probably wasn’t an advantage for a kid who identified more with his Creole roots than his Disney hero ancestor. Charley’s mother was his first musical influence. A single parent working extra shifts, she was also a singer who put faith in her son’s talent and not his scholastic aptitude. In fact, she bought Charley a guitar and sent him to visit his uncle in the French Quarter of New Orleans– and that’s where Charley received an education.
The streets of New Orleans have always been a proving ground for musicians, con-artists, evangelists, and rebels. Charley found the landscape compelling– a post-Katrina carcass picked and passed over but still alive… The ever-haunted French Quarter drew more ghosts and more street performers looking to get some dirt under the nails, jangle in their pockets. Charley learned the buskers stance, the chords that made ’em stop and stay. He took all that to New York and perfected his street game. He dabbled in hip-hop and jazz. Charley took to the streets of Copenhagen and Paris. He hitched from Spain to Northern Africa. With so much to experience and witness, why go back to America? Maybe because Crockett wasn’t done with Texas.
Charley signed a contract with Sony when he was busking in NYC, but the terms turned him off, so he headed for California to wait it out and make a record. He released his first full length album in 2015. A Stolen Jewel was everything and everywhere Crockett had ever been. Travis Wright in an attempt to label it said, “it simply sounds like Charley.” And how else could you describe the melange of Southern style, New York energy, and European hustle? Charley brought the album back to Texas and almost immediately became the cat to watch in the Dallas-Ft. Worth area.
In The Night is the latest album from Crockett. He’s still committed to the performance, but he’s more deliberate now. The years performing on the street have honed his sound like a straight razor hid down the inside of a cowboy boot. In The Night features some of the best musicians working today– friends and contemporaries who can cut it on the stage and in the studio. Crockett has cultivated a sound and style some are calling vintage, and that seems to be the “thing” in Americana music right now. Artists like Crockett and his friend Leon Bridges, JD McPherson, and Pokey Lafarge are making warm records with real players, and the difference is being felt as those albums (actual vinyl pressings) climb the charts. Self-taught is a term that gets tossed his way a lot, but self-aware might be better. Charley Crockett knows what the point of the song is and how to get it across. He’s a bluesman, a soul singer, and like his legendary ancestor in the end, a Texan.