ACL Fest 2021 weekend 1 programming: Charley Crockett
Is the classic country music of native Texan singer-songwriter Charley Crockett? The backcountry blues? Old school soul? Rock’n’roll at home? A bit of everything, maybe?
What he plays is almost precisely why the Americana genre originated in the mid-1990s, providing a kind of large umbrella for all kinds of traditional American music forms that often didn’t fit more narrowly defined radio formats. . And so it was fitting that Crockett was honored last month as Emerging Act of the Year at the Americana Music Awards in Nashville.
AMA uses “Emerging” rather than the Grammys’ “Best New Artist” tag precisely because qualifying artists have sometimes been around for a while. This is the case of Crockett, whose career has gradually accelerated over an impressive series of 10 albums since 2015.
Originally from San Benito, Crockett moved to Austin from Dallas a few years ago. Since then he has been performing at local clubs and touring endlessly, including an appearance at the ACL Fest 2018 on the BMI stage. On Saturday, he and his five-piece band moved to the larger surroundings of the VRBO scene, scrambling 18 songs into an hour-long set that examined the range of his musical avenues.
Crockett has always mixed his own original material with covers that help illuminate where he came from. At ACL, these included songs by the late songwriters Justin Townes Earle (“Harlem River Blues”) and James Hand, troubadour Waco Crockett honored with the tribute album “10 for Slim” released earlier this year.
Crockett is not a naturally spectacular singer, but there is a lot of character in his voice, and he uses it well against arrangements based on a guitar / bass / drums core with lots of color from pedal steel player Nathan Fleming. and keyboardist / trumpeter Kullen Fox. His music is retro, of course, but it sounds fresh in Crockett’s hands. He seems a born artist, and he dresses the role: On Saturday, he spotted a chic lavender suit with rhinestone accents.
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And Crockett is nothing but creatively humble. Towards the end of the set, he kindly asked the crowd, “If you like what you hear, go to the merchandise table. “