Running Horses and Reinventing Country: Charley Crockett

Charley Crockett playing the banjo. From

Charley Crockett playing the banjo. From

Charley Crockett loves to ride horses almost as much as he loves to play music. 2020 was going to be the year that I got to see him play his music live not once, but twice — first at MerleFest in spring, and next at Cold Mountain Music Festival in summer. Of course, the pandemic struck both of those appearances for Charley, and made every venue and festival reschedule or cancel the year’s events. The silver lining is that, most likely, I got to speak with him for far longer than I would have in person at either of those festivals when I called him while he was staying in Taos, New Mexico. There, an animated and focused Charley Crockett told me about everything from his love of rap and hip hop to Ray Charles and the recently departed James Hand. Our conversation covered everything from social constructs that work to compartmentalize music, to how he came to lose his favorite amulet while running a very fast American Paint horse in the San Luis Valley only to find it again just as he was about to give up. Charley has had a lot of reasons to give up on many things in his life, but luckily for all of us, he played on. “Loaded dice, chips stacked against you: damn thing’s rigged. You better believe it is. But you got to play anyway,” he told me, “And you can play your hand and carve something out for yourself.”

In this episode, Charley Crockett describes his approach to making his own brand of music, dubbed “Gulf and Western”, talks about his native Texas and his time in New Orleans and California, and much more. There is also plenty of music from his seventh album Welcome To Hard Times mixed in along with interviews of Charley and producer Mark Neill, and commentary from host and producer Joe Kendrick.

Charley Crockett songs heard in this episode:

“Run Horse Run” from Welcome To Hard Times (excerpt)

“The Valley” from The Valley (excerpt)

“Welcome To Hard Times” from Welcome To Hard Times (excerpt)

“Fool Somebody Else” from Welcome To Hard Times