ACL Live Review: Charley Crockett
Austin crooner pulls off Doug Sahm-like blend of country-soul
By Doug Freeman,
8:20AM, Sun. Oct. 14, 2018
“I didn’t expect there to be a quarter this many people here,” enthused Charley Crockett to a crowd gathered for his ACL Fest debut at high noon Saturday on the BMI stage. The crowd wasn’t simply onlookers and curious, early-afternoon arrivals, either. Fans of the local country-soul crooner had arrived early to catch an infrequent hometown set.
Crockett revels in throwback suave, in both music and style. He unloads a master class in roots through his originals and carefully curated covers. Leading with “I Wanna Cry” from this year’s Lonesome as a Shadow, the fivepiece swung with vintage bayou rhythm, multi-instrumentalist Kullen Fox pumping accordion to Crockett’s clipped Cajun intonation.
“Look What You Done” and “I Am Not Afraid” eased back into 2016’s In the Night as the frontman’s vocals began to loosen, with the set finally kicking into full throttle on a cover of the “The Race Is On.” Likewise, the showman in him begin to emerge with the bluesy soul dive of “The Sky’d Become Teardrops,” Crockett shimmying and dipping low with his guitar.
The Austinite of three years rolls with a touch of Doug Sahm’s eclecticism, and music history emerges coherently into its own sound. The San Benito native shouted out Freddy Fender from his South Texas hometown, and the late Texas Tornado’s brand of Tex-Mex marks an equally clear influence. “Jamestown Ferry” and T-Bone Walker’s “T-Bone Shuffle” drew intentional lineages for the songwriter as well.
The band managed to work through 16 songs in their allotted 45 minutes, packing roadhouse boogies, swirling Tex-Mex, country blues, and R&B licks into a seamless sweep. Charley Crockett may be somewhat of a stylistic chameleon, but it’s an effortless blend.