For the first time in years, San Benito native Charley Crockett returned home last fall for a look around his old stomping grounds. The country crooner grew up in a rural part of the Rio Grande Valley, a region of Texas he describes “as isolated, unique, and as misunderstood as they come.”
Crockett was raised by his single mother, with the help of his grandmother, in a faded trailer off Old Port Road, outside of Los Fresnos. Though he and his mother relocated to Dallas when he was a teenager, his grandmother mostly resided there until she passed away with cancer, when Crockett was in his early twenties.
When it came time to record new album The Valley(out Sept. 20 via Thirty Tigers), Texas-based singer and songwriter Charley Crockett approached his latest trip to the studio as if was his last. That's not over-dramatic by any means, considering Crockett recorded the album just one week before he underwent life-saving open-heart surgery in January of this year.
For his potential last statement as an artist immersed in the honky-tonk honesty of Hank Williams and the blues styles he discovered as a street performer in Dallas and New Orleans, the direct descendant of Davy Crockett avoided the temptation to tell his life story through a polished Americana record.
Charley Crockett is riding in a van somewhere in Germany. He’s on his way to his next gig.
“One thing I believe about music is, you have to know where you come from,” he says, thousands of miles away from where he was born. “Good Lord, you gotta hold on to where you’re from.”
That sort of rootedness in his heritage has always been foundational to Crockett’s artistry. From busking on street corners to playing on subway cars, he constantly strives to remember his roots.
“There are sounds in your background that will give you something to build on,” Crockett says in an almost professor-like manner. “I think, a lot of times, some of the younger music acts operate from places of not knowing who they are or where they come from. But you have to. You gotta be somebody who takes tradition and moves forward with it.”
Charley Crockett is a singer-songwriter who carries on a long tradition of Texas musicians that have come before him. He has made a life on the road one way or another ever since he finished high school. By phone from the U.K., he discussed touring, recording his new album The Valley right before open-heart surgery, and how producer Billy Horton helped him define his sound
Charley Crockett will release his powerful new album
The Valley on September 20th via Son of Davy/Thirty Tigers. Recorded one week before Crockett underwent lifesaving open-heart surgery this past January, the album stirs with an introspection and urgency to tell his story. The Valleychronicles his hard upbringing on the south Texas border in San Benito, his single mom’s move to Dallas and the ten years he spent as a street performer.