​​“If you ask me where I’m going, I can’t tell ya cause I don’t know. But in my mind I see the Valley, you should see the way it glows.”  – “The Valley”
​​
​​Charley Crockett’s been running nearly his entire life, but with the title track to his sixth album, the Texas songwriter looks back at where he came from. “The Valley” chronicles his hard upbringing on the south Texas border in San Benito and his single mom’s move to Dallas, but it also distills the essence of Crockett’s fierce and restless independence.
​​
​​Recorded just a week before the songwriter went under the knife for life-saving open-heart surgery in January, the album stirs with an introspection and urgency to tell his story. It’s a story of an artist searching for his place in the world, absorbing the sounds of the country as he attempts to make sense of the struggles of America and life on the road. It’s a story of exile and promise, as Crockett now runs those same highways playing for thousands of fans.
​​
​​With a pawn shop guitar that his mom bought for him when he was 17, Crockett taught himself to play. Summers in New Orleans with his uncle sparked his ear, while the Dallas blues and Valley’s Tex-Mex slipped into his bloodstream.
​​
​​He lit out after high school and spent a decade living rough on the road. He worked the communes and farms in Northern California. He busked the streets of New Orleans and Memphis. He ran the subways of New York City, sleeping in abandoned warehouses and constantly in trouble with the law.
​​
​​Those years were a blur of highways and train cars and cities for Crockett, but they taught him how to keep moving to survive and showed him a desperate side of the country living just below the surface. And all of it fused into his music.
​​
​​When he returned to Dallas in 2014 with a self-recorded album in his hand, he found a thriving music scene emerging in Deep Ellum behind artists like Leon Bridges and the Texas Gentlemen. He hustled his LP to anyone that would listen, and people took notice.
​​
​​One artist whose head was turned was blues drummer Jay Moeller, who convinced Crockett to move to Austin and introduced him to iconoclastic roots producer Billy Horton. With Horton, Crockett found a partner who understood his unique and versatile style.
​​
​​“I think I found my sound with working with Billy Horton,” Crockett attests of his co-producer. “I really want to show people how soul music, classic country, and blues are all right there together. I’m thinking about the respect of the tradition, and I want to be proud of it. I made this record for that express purpose of choosing to stay in my roots and keep them up front and not let them get tossed out.”
​​
​​Across six albums in the past five years, the Texan has defined his own distinct roots style. Even on his platters of deep-cut blues and country covers like Lil’ G.L.’s Honky Tonk Jubilee (2017) and Lil G.L.’s Blue Bonanza (2018), Crockett pushes a suave and soulful classic Americana that melds genres and is as restless as the artist himself.
​​
​​His delivery hinges with New Orleans clip, and voice slides with slight lisp that melts around his phrasing like oil skirting the surface of a pond. His ear tunes an amalgam of East Texas blues, border Tex-Mex, classic honky tonk, and Louisiana soul, swerving effortlessly between weeping George Jones-worthy country ballads and hot smoked Lazy Lester-swaddled blues. And Crockett’s own songwriting, showcased on 2016’s In the Night and 2018 breakout Lonesome as a Shadow, cuts with an equally timeless quality.
​​
​​No surprise then that Crockett has found a home base in Austin, with a deep history and appreciation for stylistic dexterity and transformational takes on traditional sounds. Like Doug Sahm’s cosmic roots blender or Gary Clark Jr’s blues shredder, or even Willie Nelson’s signature jazz country phrasing, Crockett effortlessly spins his influences into his own unique mix, let loose live with shimmying stage charisma worthy of Elvis or Jerry Lee Lewis.
​​
​​Another artist who took notice of the sharp new songwriter was Turnpike Troubadours frontman Evan Felker, who instantly became a champion of his music after meeting outside a show at the historic Gruene Hall. Crockett became a frequent tourmate with the band, and penned The Valley’s opening track, “Borrowed Time,” with Felker while traveling from L.A. to Colorado.
​​
​​“Writing with Evan was the easiest thing,” offers Crockett. “I’ve learned everything from Evan, and I feel very blessed to know him the way I do, because he’s just special. I became a headliner through opening for them. They showed me how to do it and still stay the kind of independent cat I am.”
​​
​​That independence remains essential to Crockett. Although courted by major labels and big name producers, Crockett is determined to continue forging his own path. Along the way, he’s begun to garner critical praise from national outlets like Rolling Stone, Billboard, and NPR, and made his mark at major festivals ranging from Stagecoach and Pickathon to ACL and Newport Folk. This winter, Blue Bonanza hit #10 on Billboard Blues Chart and the Americana radio album chart.
​​
​​At 35, Crockett still spends most of his time on the road, and he’s hardly slowing down. Even with his surgery, Crockett was back onstage within a couple months hot-stepping across SXSW. This summer, he makes his debut at the Grand Ole Opry as he sets out for headlining US and European tours. Crockett keeps constantly moving forward, even as The Valley takes a moment to reflect on his past.
​​
​​“Being from the Valley, and traveling around the country and the world, and then playing Deep Ellum hard and being in Austin the past few years – it can be hard to know where you’re really from,” he says. “My story’s wilder than people can make stories up. These songs that I’ve written on this record, it’s all really autobiographical, and they’re about as much depth as I’ve been able to capture writing about myself.”
​​
​​Or as Crockett sings atop a rumbling shuffle on “The Way I’m Livin’ (Santa Rosa)”: “If the way I’m living seem like just a mess, believe me I would choose this life over the rest.”  
​​“If you ask me where I’m going, I can’t tell ya cause I don’t know. But in my mind I see the Valley, you should see the way it glows.”  – “The Valley”
​​
​​Charley Crockett’s been running nearly his entire life, but with the title track to his sixth album, the Texas songwriter looks back at where he came from. “The Valley” chronicles his hard upbringing on the south Texas border in San Benito and his single mom’s move to Dallas, but it also distills the essence of Crockett’s fierce and restless independence.
​​
​​Recorded just a week before the songwriter went under the knife for life-saving open-heart surgery in January, the album stirs with an introspection and urgency to tell his story. It’s a story of an artist searching for his place in the world, absorbing the sounds of the country as he attempts to make sense of the struggles of America and life on the road. It’s a story of exile and promise, as Crockett now runs those same highways playing for thousands of fans.
​​
​​With a pawn shop guitar that his mom bought for him when he was 17, Crockett taught himself to play. Summers in New Orleans with his uncle sparked his ear, while the Dallas blues and Valley’s Tex-Mex slipped into his bloodstream.
​​
​​He lit out after high school and spent a decade living rough on the road. He worked the communes and farms in Northern California. He busked the streets of New Orleans and Memphis. He ran the subways of New York City, sleeping in abandoned warehouses and constantly in trouble with the law.
​​
​​Those years were a blur of highways and train cars and cities for Crockett, but they taught him how to keep moving to survive and showed him a desperate side of the country living just below the surface. And all of it fused into his music.
​​
​​When he returned to Dallas in 2014 with a self-recorded album in his hand, he found a thriving music scene emerging in Deep Ellum behind artists like Leon Bridges and the Texas Gentlemen. He hustled his LP to anyone that would listen, and people took notice.
​​
​​One artist whose head was turned was blues drummer Jay Moeller, who convinced Crockett to move to Austin and introduced him to iconoclastic roots producer Billy Horton. With Horton, Crockett found a partner who understood his unique and versatile style.
​​
​​“I think I found my sound with working with Billy Horton,” Crockett attests of his co-producer. “I really want to show people how soul music, classic country, and blues are all right there together. I’m thinking about the respect of the tradition, and I want to be proud of it. I made this record for that express purpose of choosing to stay in my roots and keep them up front and not let them get tossed out.”
​​
​​Across six albums in the past five years, the Texan has defined his own distinct roots style. Even on his platters of deep-cut blues and country covers like Lil’ G.L.’s Honky Tonk Jubilee (2017) and Lil G.L.’s Blue Bonanza (2018), Crockett pushes a suave and soulful classic Americana that melds genres and is as restless as the artist himself.
​​
​​His delivery hinges with New Orleans clip, and voice slides with slight lisp that melts around his phrasing like oil skirting the surface of a pond. His ear tunes an amalgam of East Texas blues, border Tex-Mex, classic honky tonk, and Louisiana soul, swerving effortlessly between weeping George Jones-worthy country ballads and hot smoked Lazy Lester-swaddled blues. And Crockett’s own songwriting, showcased on 2016’s In the Night and 2018 breakout Lonesome as a Shadow, cuts with an equally timeless quality.
​​
​​No surprise then that Crockett has found a home base in Austin, with a deep history and appreciation for stylistic dexterity and transformational takes on traditional sounds. Like Doug Sahm’s cosmic roots blender or Gary Clark Jr’s blues shredder, or even Willie Nelson’s signature jazz country phrasing, Crockett effortlessly spins his influences into his own unique mix, let loose live with shimmying stage charisma worthy of Elvis or Jerry Lee Lewis.
​​
​​Another artist who took notice of the sharp new songwriter was Turnpike Troubadours frontman Evan Felker, who instantly became a champion of his music after meeting outside a show at the historic Gruene Hall. Crockett became a frequent tourmate with the band, and penned The Valley’s opening track, “Borrowed Time,” with Felker while traveling from L.A. to Colorado.
​​
​​“Writing with Evan was the easiest thing,” offers Crockett. “I’ve learned everything from Evan, and I feel very blessed to know him the way I do, because he’s just special. I became a headliner through opening for them. They showed me how to do it and still stay the kind of independent cat I am.”
​​
​​That independence remains essential to Crockett. Although courted by major labels and big name producers, Crockett is determined to continue forging his own path. Along the way, he’s begun to garner critical praise from national outlets like Rolling Stone, Billboard, and NPR, and made his mark at major festivals ranging from Stagecoach and Pickathon to ACL and Newport Folk. This winter, Blue Bonanza hit #10 on Billboard Blues Chart and the Americana radio album chart.
​​
​​At 35, Crockett still spends most of his time on the road, and he’s hardly slowing down. Even with his surgery, Crockett was back onstage within a couple months hot-stepping across SXSW. This summer, he makes his debut at the Grand Ole Opry as he sets out for headlining US and European tours. Crockett keeps constantly moving forward, even as The Valley takes a moment to reflect on his past.
​​
​​“Being from the Valley, and traveling around the country and the world, and then playing Deep Ellum hard and being in Austin the past few years – it can be hard to know where you’re really from,” he says. “My story’s wilder than people can make stories up. These songs that I’ve written on this record, it’s all really autobiographical, and they’re about as much depth as I’ve been able to capture writing about myself.”
​​
​​Or as Crockett sings atop a rumbling shuffle on “The Way I’m Livin’ (Santa Rosa)”: “If the way I’m living seem like just a mess, believe me I would choose this life over the rest.”  
​​“If you ask me where I’m going, I can’t tell ya cause I don’t know. But in my mind I see the Valley, you should see the way it glows.”  – “The Valley”
​​
​​Charley Crockett’s been running nearly his entire life, but with the title track to his sixth album, the Texas songwriter looks back at where he came from. “The Valley” chronicles his hard upbringing on the south Texas border in San Benito and his single mom’s move to Dallas, but it also distills the essence of Crockett’s fierce and restless independence.
​​
​​Recorded just a week before the songwriter went under the knife for life-saving open-heart surgery in January, the album stirs with an introspection and urgency to tell his story. It’s a story of an artist searching for his place in the world, absorbing the sounds of the country as he attempts to make sense of the struggles of America and life on the road. It’s a story of exile and promise, as Crockett now runs those same highways playing for thousands of fans.
​​
​​With a pawn shop guitar that his mom bought for him when he was 17, Crockett taught himself to play. Summers in New Orleans with his uncle sparked his ear, while the Dallas blues and Valley’s Tex-Mex slipped into his bloodstream.
​​
​​He lit out after high school and spent a decade living rough on the road. He worked the communes and farms in Northern California. He busked the streets of New Orleans and Memphis. He ran the subways of New York City, sleeping in abandoned warehouses and constantly in trouble with the law.
​​
​​Those years were a blur of highways and train cars and cities for Crockett, but they taught him how to keep moving to survive and showed him a desperate side of the country living just below the surface. And all of it fused into his music.
​​
​​When he returned to Dallas in 2014 with a self-recorded album in his hand, he found a thriving music scene emerging in Deep Ellum behind artists like Leon Bridges and the Texas Gentlemen. He hustled his LP to anyone that would listen, and people took notice.
​​
​​One artist whose head was turned was blues drummer Jay Moeller, who convinced Crockett to move to Austin and introduced him to iconoclastic roots producer Billy Horton. With Horton, Crockett found a partner who understood his unique and versatile style.
​​
​​“I think I found my sound with working with Billy Horton,” Crockett attests of his co-producer. “I really want to show people how soul music, classic country, and blues are all right there together. I’m thinking about the respect of the tradition, and I want to be proud of it. I made this record for that express purpose of choosing to stay in my roots and keep them up front and not let them get tossed out.”
​​
​​Across six albums in the past five years, the Texan has defined his own distinct roots style. Even on his platters of deep-cut blues and country covers like Lil’ G.L.’s Honky Tonk Jubilee (2017) and Lil G.L.’s Blue Bonanza (2018), Crockett pushes a suave and soulful classic Americana that melds genres and is as restless as the artist himself.
​​
​​His delivery hinges with New Orleans clip, and voice slides with slight lisp that melts around his phrasing like oil skirting the surface of a pond. His ear tunes an amalgam of East Texas blues, border Tex-Mex, classic honky tonk, and Louisiana soul, swerving effortlessly between weeping George Jones-worthy country ballads and hot smoked Lazy Lester-swaddled blues. And Crockett’s own songwriting, showcased on 2016’s In the Night and 2018 breakout Lonesome as a Shadow, cuts with an equally timeless quality.
​​
​​No surprise then that Crockett has found a home base in Austin, with a deep history and appreciation for stylistic dexterity and transformational takes on traditional sounds. Like Doug Sahm’s cosmic roots blender or Gary Clark Jr’s blues shredder, or even Willie Nelson’s signature jazz country phrasing, Crockett effortlessly spins his influences into his own unique mix, let loose live with shimmying stage charisma worthy of Elvis or Jerry Lee Lewis.
​​
​​Another artist who took notice of the sharp new songwriter was Turnpike Troubadours frontman Evan Felker, who instantly became a champion of his music after meeting outside a show at the historic Gruene Hall. Crockett became a frequent tourmate with the band, and penned The Valley’s opening track, “Borrowed Time,” with Felker while traveling from L.A. to Colorado.
​​
​​“Writing with Evan was the easiest thing,” offers Crockett. “I’ve learned everything from Evan, and I feel very blessed to know him the way I do, because he’s just special. I became a headliner through opening for them. They showed me how to do it and still stay the kind of independent cat I am.”
​​
​​That independence remains essential to Crockett. Although courted by major labels and big name producers, Crockett is determined to continue forging his own path. Along the way, he’s begun to garner critical praise from national outlets like Rolling Stone, Billboard, and NPR, and made his mark at major festivals ranging from Stagecoach and Pickathon to ACL and Newport Folk. This winter, Blue Bonanza hit #10 on Billboard Blues Chart and the Americana radio album chart.
​​
​​At 35, Crockett still spends most of his time on the road, and he’s hardly slowing down. Even with his surgery, Crockett was back onstage within a couple months hot-stepping across SXSW. This summer, he makes his debut at the Grand Ole Opry as he sets out for headlining US and European tours. Crockett keeps constantly moving forward, even as The Valley takes a moment to reflect on his past.
​​
​​“Being from the Valley, and traveling around the country and the world, and then playing Deep Ellum hard and being in Austin the past few years – it can be hard to know where you’re really from,” he says. “My story’s wilder than people can make stories up. These songs that I’ve written on this record, it’s all really autobiographical, and they’re about as much depth as I’ve been able to capture writing about myself.”
​​
​​Or as Crockett sings atop a rumbling shuffle on “The Way I’m Livin’ (Santa Rosa)”: “If the way I’m living seem like just a mess, believe me I would choose this life over the rest.”  
“If you ask me where I’m going, I can’t tell ya cause I don’t know. But in my mind I see the Valley, you should see the way it glows.”  – “The Valley”
​​
​​Charley Crockett’s been running nearly his entire life, but with the title track to his sixth album, the Texas songwriter looks back at where he came from. “The Valley” chronicles his hard upbringing on the south Texas border in San Benito and his single mom’s move to Dallas, but it also distills the essence of Crockett’s fierce and restless independence.
​​
​​Recorded just a week before the songwriter went under the knife for life-saving open-heart surgery in January, the album stirs with an introspection and urgency to tell his story. It’s a story of an artist searching for his place in the world, absorbing the sounds of the country as he attempts to make sense of the struggles of America and life on the road. It’s a story of exile and promise, as Crockett now runs those same highways playing for thousands of fans.
​​
​​With a pawn shop guitar that his mom bought for him when he was 17, Crockett taught himself to play. Summers in New Orleans with his uncle sparked his ear, while the Dallas blues and Valley’s Tex-Mex slipped into his bloodstream.
​​
​​He lit out after high school and spent a decade living rough on the road. He worked the communes and farms in Northern California. He busked the streets of New Orleans and Memphis. He ran the subways of New York City, sleeping in abandoned warehouses and constantly in trouble with the law.
​​
​​Those years were a blur of highways and train cars and cities for Crockett, but they taught him how to keep moving to survive and showed him a desperate side of the country living just below the surface. And all of it fused into his music.
​​
​​When he returned to Dallas in 2014 with a self-recorded album in his hand, he found a thriving music scene emerging in Deep Ellum behind artists like Leon Bridges and the Texas Gentlemen. He hustled his LP to anyone that would listen, and people took notice.
​​
​​One artist whose head was turned was blues drummer Jay Moeller, who convinced Crockett to move to Austin and introduced him to iconoclastic roots producer Billy Horton. With Horton, Crockett found a partner who understood his unique and versatile style.
​​
​​“I think I found my sound with working with Billy Horton,” Crockett attests of his co-producer. “I really want to show people how soul music, classic country, and blues are all right there together. I’m thinking about the respect of the tradition, and I want to be proud of it. I made this record for that express purpose of choosing to stay in my roots and keep them up front and not let them get tossed out.”
​​
​​Across six albums in the past five years, the Texan has defined his own distinct roots style. Even on his platters of deep-cut blues and country covers like Lil’ G.L.’s Honky Tonk Jubilee (2017) and Lil G.L.’s Blue Bonanza (2018), Crockett pushes a suave and soulful classic Americana that melds genres and is as restless as the artist himself.
​​
​​His delivery hinges with New Orleans clip, and voice slides with slight lisp that melts around his phrasing like oil skirting the surface of a pond. His ear tunes an amalgam of East Texas blues, border Tex-Mex, classic honky tonk, and Louisiana soul, swerving effortlessly between weeping George Jones-worthy country ballads and hot smoked Lazy Lester-swaddled blues. And Crockett’s own songwriting, showcased on 2016’s In the Night and 2018 breakout Lonesome as a Shadow, cuts with an equally timeless quality.
​​
​​No surprise then that Crockett has found a home base in Austin, with a deep history and appreciation for stylistic dexterity and transformational takes on traditional sounds. Like Doug Sahm’s cosmic roots blender or Gary Clark Jr’s blues shredder, or even Willie Nelson’s signature jazz country phrasing, Crockett effortlessly spins his influences into his own unique mix, let loose live with shimmying stage charisma worthy of Elvis or Jerry Lee Lewis.
​​
​​Another artist who took notice of the sharp new songwriter was Turnpike Troubadours frontman Evan Felker, who instantly became a champion of his music after meeting outside a show at the historic Gruene Hall. Crockett became a frequent tourmate with the band, and penned The Valley’s opening track, “Borrowed Time,” with Felker while traveling from L.A. to Colorado.
​​
​​“Writing with Evan was the easiest thing,” offers Crockett. “I’ve learned everything from Evan, and I feel very blessed to know him the way I do, because he’s just special. I became a headliner through opening for them. They showed me how to do it and still stay the kind of independent cat I am.”
​​
​​That independence remains essential to Crockett. Although courted by major labels and big name producers, Crockett is determined to continue forging his own path. Along the way, he’s begun to garner critical praise from national outlets like Rolling Stone, Billboard, and NPR, and made his mark at major festivals ranging from Stagecoach and Pickathon to ACL and Newport Folk. This winter, Blue Bonanza hit #10 on Billboard Blues Chart and the Americana radio album chart.
​​
​​At 35, Crockett still spends most of his time on the road, and he’s hardly slowing down. Even with his surgery, Crockett was back onstage within a couple months hot-stepping across SXSW. This summer, he makes his debut at the Grand Ole Opry as he sets out for headlining US and European tours. Crockett keeps constantly moving forward, even as The Valley takes a moment to reflect on his past.
​​
​​“Being from the Valley, and traveling around the country and the world, and then playing Deep Ellum hard and being in Austin the past few years – it can be hard to know where you’re really from,” he says. “My story’s wilder than people can make stories up. These songs that I’ve written on this record, it’s all really autobiographical, and they’re about as much depth as I’ve been able to capture writing about myself.”
​​
​​Or as Crockett sings atop a rumbling shuffle on “The Way I’m Livin’ (Santa Rosa)”: “If the way I’m living seem like just a mess, believe me I would choose this life over the rest.”  

“I love timeless songs,” says Charley Crockett. “I’ve always believed that the more timeless songs you learn how to play, the more timeless songs you can write.”

Crockett’s unique approach to American roots music — a mix of Texas blues, classic country and Cajun soul — has earned him an audience on both sides of the Atlantic. Long before he toured the country in a bus once owned by Willie Nelson, though, he cut his teeth as a street performer, busking on the corners of New Orleans and the subway cars of New York City. It was a hands-on musical education. Surrounded by the chaotic noise of city life, Crockett learned how to project. He learned how to hold a crowd’s attention. Most importantly, he learned a long list of classic songs from the jug bands, brass players and fellow songwriters with whom he shared the street. Filled with vivid storytelling, raw honesty and rich southern heritage, those classic tunes would eventually inspire his own original music.

He pays tribute to those busking days with Lil G.L.’s Blue Bonanza, an album stocked with Crockett’s own interpretations of old-school country songs and half-forgotten blues gems. Featuring 15 songs originally performed by George Jones, Ernest Tubb, T-Bone Walker, Jimmy Reed, Charles Brown, Lavelle White, Ray Charles, and others, Blue Bonanza shines a light on a modern musician with traditional roots. It’s also the second release in his ongoing Lil G.L. series, following 2017’s Lil G.L.’s Honky Tonk Jubilee.

“The roots of the street are deep in this album,” says Crockett, who co-produced Blue Bonanza during two days of inspired, live-in-the-studio recording. He tracked the songs with his road band, capturing the chemistry generated by a year of heavy touring. Together, Crockett and company decorated these songs with upright bass, electric guitar, mandolin, pedal steel and Wurlitzer, combining acoustic and amplified instruments into the same retro-minded mix. “There’s a lot of accordion and trumpet here, too,” the frontman adds, “and that comes from me playing with brass bands in New Orleans. You’ve got all that brass and soul in the New Orleans sound, but you’ve also got that street sound. I heard a lot of jug bands doing old-school music down there, and I’m just trying to keep that old sound together.”

It was blues music that ultimately brought Crockett back home to Texas. Raised in rural San Benito by a single mother, he left the Rio Grande at a young age and embarked upon a life worthy of his ancestor, American folk hero (and fellow wanderer) Davy Crockett. Charley worked on farms in California. He lived on the streets of Paris. He wandered his way through North Africa. Returning to Texas after a decade of street gigs and subway performances, he found a state bursting with new musical opportunities. He also found a kindred spirit in Jay Moeller, a legendary Texas musician steeped in similarly bluesy influences. It was Moeller who began calling Crockett “Lil GL,” a nickname modeled after GL Crockett — an obscure 20th century musician who, like the young Charley, built his reputation upon a mix of classic country twang and raw, bluesy bang.

A reinterpretation of GL Crockett’s 1965 R&B hit, “It’s a Man Down There,” serves as one of Blue Bonanza‘s many highlights. Also filling the tracklist is a rockabilly cover of the Van Brothers’ “Servant of Love,” a country-soul version of Danny O’Keefe’s “Good Time Charley’s Got the Blues,” and a reverent, slow-burning take on Lavelle White’s “Lead Me On.” Much of the album’s source material is taken from mid-century artists who made their mark in Texas and Louisiana, two states whose influence can be heard in Crockett’s phrasing, southern drawl, and regional punch.

“When people ask me what I do, I tell them I play Texas and Louisiana music,” he says proudly. “People call me a stylistic chameleon, and I like that. This is soul music. It’s blues. It’s country. It’s just music.”

Don’t mistake Charley Crockett for a covers-only musician. He’s a prolific and fiercely creative songwriter, with Blue Bonanza marking his fifth release since 2015 and second in 2018 alone, following the critically acclaimed Lonesome As A Shadow released earlier this year. Few contemporary artists can match that output. Rolling Stone said Lonesome As A Shadow was one of the “25 Best Country and Americana albums of 2018 so far” back in June (alongside artists like Willie Nelson, Brandi Carlile, Kacey Musgraves and John Prine), and NPR World Café praised Charley for his “hard-earned version of optimism that’s nothing short of inspiring.”

Crockett is also constantly touring, playing 200-plus shows in 2018 in the U.S., UK and Europe (and over 400 since releasing In The Night in 2016), and has toured in the past with Turnpike Troubadours, JD McPherson, Old Crow Medicine Show, Margo Price, Lukas Nelson, Shooter Jennings and many others. Crockett has played for over 150,000 people this year, and continues to build a loyal fan base at home and abroad.

The Lil G.L. series allows Crockett to interpret some of the songs that have shaped his own approach to writing, aligning with a number of classic crooners along the way. Years ago, Willie Nelson, Loretta Lynn, Ray Charles and George Jones all found a similar balance, mixing their own material with covers of songs by other artists.

“I think that the best artists, whether they’re working in country music or hip-hop, are always bringing the tradition back to the front,” he says. “I believe America’s greatest era of songwriters already happened, and the people who are pushing it forward are drawing heavily from the older stuff.”

On Lil G.L.’s Blue Bonanza, old sounds new again.

“I love timeless songs,” says Charley Crockett. “I’ve always believed that the more timeless songs you learn how to play, the more timeless songs you can write.”

Crockett’s unique approach to American roots music — a mix of Texas blues, classic country and Cajun soul — has earned him an audience on both sides of the Atlantic. Long before he toured the country in a bus once owned by Willie Nelson, though, he cut his teeth as a street performer, busking on the corners of New Orleans and the subway cars of New York City. It was a hands-on musical education. Surrounded by the chaotic noise of city life, Crockett learned how to project. He learned how to hold a crowd’s attention. Most importantly, he learned a long list of classic songs from the jug bands, brass players and fellow songwriters with whom he shared the street. Filled with vivid storytelling, raw honesty and rich southern heritage, those classic tunes would eventually inspire his own original music.

He pays tribute to those busking days with Lil G.L.’s Blue Bonanza, an album stocked with Crockett’s own interpretations of old-school country songs and half-forgotten blues gems. Featuring 15 songs originally performed by George Jones, Ernest Tubb, T-Bone Walker, Jimmy Reed, Charles Brown, Lavelle White, Ray Charles, and others, Blue Bonanza shines a light on a modern musician with traditional roots. It’s also the second release in his ongoing Lil G.L. series, following 2017’s Lil G.L.’s Honky Tonk Jubilee.

“The roots of the street are deep in this album,” says Crockett, who co-produced Blue Bonanza during two days of inspired, live-in-the-studio recording. He tracked the songs with his road band, capturing the chemistry generated by a year of heavy touring. Together, Crockett and company decorated these songs with upright bass, electric guitar, mandolin, pedal steel and Wurlitzer, combining acoustic and amplified instruments into the same retro-minded mix. “There’s a lot of accordion and trumpet here, too,” the frontman adds, “and that comes from me playing with brass bands in New Orleans. You’ve got all that brass and soul in the New Orleans sound, but you’ve also got that street sound. I heard a lot of jug bands doing old-school music down there, and I’m just trying to keep that old sound together.”

It was blues music that ultimately brought Crockett back home to Texas. Raised in rural San Benito by a single mother, he left the Rio Grande at a young age and embarked upon a life worthy of his ancestor, American folk hero (and fellow wanderer) Davy Crockett. Charley worked on farms in California. He lived on the streets of Paris. He wandered his way through North Africa. Returning to Texas after a decade of street gigs and subway performances, he found a state bursting with new musical opportunities. He also found a kindred spirit in Jay Moeller, a legendary Texas musician steeped in similarly bluesy influences. It was Moeller who began calling Crockett “Lil GL,” a nickname modeled after GL Crockett — an obscure 20th century musician who, like the young Charley, built his reputation upon a mix of classic country twang and raw, bluesy bang.

A reinterpretation of GL Crockett’s 1965 R&B hit, “It’s a Man Down There,” serves as one of Blue Bonanza‘s many highlights. Also filling the tracklist is a rockabilly cover of the Van Brothers’ “Servant of Love,” a country-soul version of Danny O’Keefe’s “Good Time Charley’s Got the Blues,” and a reverent, slow-burning take on Lavelle White’s “Lead Me On.” Much of the album’s source material is taken from mid-century artists who made their mark in Texas and Louisiana, two states whose influence can be heard in Crockett’s phrasing, southern drawl, and regional punch.

“When people ask me what I do, I tell them I play Texas and Louisiana music,” he says proudly. “People call me a stylistic chameleon, and I like that. This is soul music. It’s blues. It’s country. It’s just music.”

Don’t mistake Charley Crockett for a covers-only musician. He’s a prolific and fiercely creative songwriter, with Blue Bonanza marking his fifth release since 2015 and second in 2018 alone, following the critically acclaimed Lonesome As A Shadow released earlier this year. Few contemporary artists can match that output. Rolling Stone said Lonesome As A Shadow was one of the “25 Best Country and Americana albums of 2018 so far” back in June (alongside artists like Willie Nelson, Brandi Carlile, Kacey Musgraves and John Prine), and NPR World Café praised Charley for his “hard-earned version of optimism that’s nothing short of inspiring.”

Crockett is also constantly touring, playing 200-plus shows in 2018 in the U.S., UK and Europe (and over 400 since releasing In The Night in 2016), and has toured in the past with Turnpike Troubadours, JD McPherson, Old Crow Medicine Show, Margo Price, Lukas Nelson, Shooter Jennings and many others. Crockett has played for over 150,000 people this year, and continues to build a loyal fan base at home and abroad.

The Lil G.L. series allows Crockett to interpret some of the songs that have shaped his own approach to writing, aligning with a number of classic crooners along the way. Years ago, Willie Nelson, Loretta Lynn, Ray Charles and George Jones all found a similar balance, mixing their own material with covers of songs by other artists.

“I think that the best artists, whether they’re working in country music or hip-hop, are always bringing the tradition back to the front,” he says. “I believe America’s greatest era of songwriters already happened, and the people who are pushing it forward are drawing heavily from the older stuff.”

On Lil G.L.’s Blue Bonanza, old sounds new again.

Growing up with a single mother in San Benito, Texas, the hometown of Tejano star Freddy Fender was not easy for blues singer Charley Crockett. Hitchhiking across the country exposed Crockett to the street life at a young age, following in the footsteps of his relative, American folk hero Davy Crockett, who also lived a wild life on the American frontier. After train hopping across the country, singing on the streets for change in New Orleans’ French Quarter, busking in New York City and performing across Texas and Northern California, Crockett set off to travel the world and lived on the streets of Paris for nearly a year before searching for home in Spain, Morocco, and Northern Africa.

The blues artist returned home to Texas and released his debut solo album titled A Stolen Jewel in 2015, receiving critical acclaim in Dallas and ultimately landing him a Dallas Observer Music Award that year for “Best Blues Act”. A record “rich with Southern flavor, a musical gumbo of Delta blues, honky-tonk, gospel and Cajun jazz,” Jewel proved that Crockett, born into poverty in the Rio Grande, had come home to make his musical mark on the South. Crockett, who is self-described as elusive, rebellious and self-taught, has been compared to legends like Bill Withers, Merle Haggard, and Gary Clark Jr.

He released his sophomore record In The Night, an admirable nod to his Texas country and Louisiana blues roots, on June 4 and ended 2016 having played over 125 shows. “In the Night” and Crockett’s song “I Am Not Afraid” received international recognition from top tastemakers after being picked by NPR Music as one of the “Top 10 Songs Public Radio Can’t Stop Playing” and selected by David Dye to be featured on World Cafe in late July. The Fort Worth Star-Telegram called it “an impressive calling card, full of Crockett’s plaintive soulfulness and swinging tempos” and Central Track noted the artist as having “the well-rounded songwriting capabilities of Van Morrison and a vocal approach that finds common ground between Bill Withers and early Dr. John.” Crockett graced the cover of Buddy Magazine in May 2016, who called him “the archetype of the new American vagabond.”

He has shared the stage with artists like Justin Townes Earle, Citizen Cope, Alejandro Escovedo, Joe Ely, Sean Hayes, Tab Benoit, Turnpike Troubadours, and Leon Bridges.