A descendant of Tennessee’s greatest folk hero, Davy Crockett, looks to pen his own legacy to the state. Even though his roots lie in Texas, make no mistake, Charley Crockett is as Americana as it comes in Music City. But don’t expect a one-dimensional sound from this artist. As easy as it is to pick up on his earthy tone, and it certainly is, Crockett’s discography is a treasure trove of musical influences. Inside you can find blues, gospel, soul and of course a little country thrown in the mix. If his versatility isn’t enough to amaze you then maybe his streak of releasing ten records within the last six years will. But behind the enigma of Crockett, you’ll find individual who found himself settling in the unlikeliest of genres from his youth.
Much like his ancestor, Crockett didn’t grow up in the most luxurious or well-off families in Los Fresnos. But his life was undoubtedly rich with music as his single mother introduced him to the blues. Life on the trailer park could make anyone weary from blues music though, which prompted his family to relocate to Dallas. An urban environment brought Crockett to his first real love of music, hip hop. The genre’s usage of samples brought him to know other artists who became major influences including Curtis Mayfield and Nina Simone. The summer months would be the most memorable for Crockett, however, as he spent time with his uncle in New Orleans’ famous French Quarter district. Crockett’s time in the neighborhood showed him what real music was as the signature brass bands propelled him to pursue music at the age of 17. Armed with a guitar that his mother bought for him at a pawn shop, Crockett busked around the streets of New Orleans before hitchhiking to New York City. The journey and ride across the states on a train inspired the name and formation of his first group, the Trainrobbers.
The blues driven americana that rose from Crockett’s prior influences in New Orleans was enough to get his group signed by Sony Music. The young artist felt the pressures from the business weighing heavily on his shoulders enough to transpire a change of scenery. Crockett moved everywhere from California to Morocco. Developing his sound and doing whatever odd job he could find at the time. Even if it meant finding himself on the wrong side of the law working marijuana fields and harvesting to sell them. But music was his way out of a lifestyle that only held further trouble then he already found himself in. When reflecting on his travels up unto this point, Crockett stated, “People think my story is far-fetched, but the thing is, I’ve toned it down.” Who knows what else he’s done during these travels? What is known is the music he brought when returning to Texas in 2015. His self-released debut album, A Stolen Jewel, became a rave sensation with the press heralding it. Among the publications praising this “jewel” would be the Dallas Observer who awarded Crockett with the ‘Best Blues Act’ commemoration. But this lo-fi hit was just a precursor to what else he would accomplish in the follow-ups.
Now a more established writer, Crockett began letting his blues background take hold in his next album, In The Night. His sampling of past blues legends gained attention from other artists in his community who pegged him in touring lineups. Samantha Fish, Turnpike Troubadours and many others opened up spots in their act for Crockett to come perform with them. His reputation for an eclectic swing timbre paired with an americana style. Albeit a more neo approach. But his turning point into country exemplified a prowess to bend genres. His demonstration of this came through in his first record of pure originals, 2018’s Lonesome as a Shadow. The collection of tracks that were solely his were recorded at the renowned Sam C. Phillips Studio in Memphis, Tennessee. The record’s exposure of music that revealed much of Crockett’s personal life, including a tribute to his late sister, attributed to his ability to not just write songs, but to craft them. The jazzy Texas drawl is more than identifiable in much of his music as noted in the record’s lead track, “I Wanna Cry”. Crockett toured extensively with his backing band, the Blue Drifters, spreading attention to his life and music. But his now busy schedule wouldn’t keep him from stepping up his creativity and bring new reasons to keep an eye on his career.
Late 2018 brought Crockett’s latest project venture, Lil G.L. Blue Bonanza. A piece of various workers that were developed from usage of an old moniker he went by. Although, this work focused more on covers and tribute pieces to familiar favorites, Crockett issued his own flair to add new appreciation to big time tracks. Critics could find all the artists they’ve marveled at for years with Crockett bringing them to life in a different time. Big names such as: Jimmy Reed, T-Bone Walker, George Jones and Danny O’Keefe all had their music covered. The twist Crockett brought to these tracks was enough to get recognized on Billboard with the album charting at number 10 in blues.
Crockett’s resume continued to be filled with more impressive compilations over the next couple years. But a brief bout with open heart surgery threatened to end his life and career before returning to the stage. With other publications backing him annually between each work including Rolling Stone, American Songwriter and Texas Monthly, Crockett aims higher with his latest release. Music City USA edges on the sultry filled sound that the singer has been praised for with each track he’s ever put out. But the album’s balancing act of filling jazz, blues and folk is deceptively sweet. The lead single “I Need Your Love” juggles these ideals while labelling Crockett as more than just another singer in a cowboy hat.
The testimonials of his life, ancestry and music are eyebrow raising. But that’s just part of the excitement you can expect from Crockett whose life and artistry is sad, harrowing, funny, uplifting and complex. All these emotions are just some of what to expect from an artist who’s unexpecting. By rather than be predictable and announce what he’s got planned, Crockett leaves us in suspense and anticipation on what else he chooses to reveal from his life. Till then, he just asks for a little love.
Written by Trenton Luber