Charley Crockett is no cookie-cutter cowboy. He grew up in the Rio Grande Valley as the son of a single mother, and he lived on the streets as a wandering musician, drifting from the Valley to New Orleans and New York before winding his way back to Texas.
But no matter where he is, he has an unmistakable sound and style that is garnering sensational reviews from Rolling Stone and Billboard magazines, where his latest collection of songs landed in the top 10 on the blues album chart.
But calling his music “blues” can be misleading because it seems to weave some thread that ties together the Big Apple, the Big Easy and that big valley in South Texas that he once called home.
On his musical influences:
“[Johnny Canales] was, like, the man,” Crockett says. “He had a television show that was really big – like a variety show – down in the Valley. All the great South Texas stars and national stars would come on there and stuff. … I grew up around that, and as I got older, radio influenced me. I found that my modern connection to blues stems from discovering hip-hop.”
“Even those people that we have now kind of lionized as traditional, kind of folk idols, were influenced by the popular music of their time,” Crockett says. “For me, that’s where the hip-hop stuff comes in because across the genres of music, there’s a lot of watered down stuff going down these days. It’s not for me to classify what genre is this, that and the third, but there is authenticity.”
On his path to blues:
“I started getting into the soul musicians and the blues artists that a lot of time the [hip-hop artists] would be sampling,” Crockett says. “Obviously, I got into street culture just being a transient, kind of itinerant musician. That’s when I really started getting into a lot of old time spirituals and a lot of drinking songs.”
On how he compares himself to country music legends:
“I’m not nearly as good as any of them, but I love that music,” Crockett says. “I really believe in that sound and I’m really drawn to it.”
On his success, and his future in the music industry:
“I got one [album] in the can that we’re going to release sometime later this year,” Crockett says. “I’m really grateful that these rooms I’m showing up to, there’s people in them.”
Written by Hayden Baggett.