ACL Fest Interviews
Butch HancockFriday 5:15pm, Austin Ventures stage
Lubbock-born Butch Hancock is a genuine West Texas Renaissance man. In addition to being one of the state's most revered songwriters, penning classics like "If You Were a Bluebird" and "Boxcars," he dabbles in architecture, photography, and guiding rafters down the Rio Grande in Big Bend.
While many of the images and emotions Hancock conjures up in song are recognizable, his songwriting imbues them with a whiff of the transcendental. Maintaining that mindset was one reason Hancock left Austin for the ghost town cum iconoclast colony of Terlingua.
"It feels like it suits my spirit much better," he says. "I tell everybody there's elbow room for the spirit out here."
Currently, Hancock is utilizing his architecture skills by building a new house.
"It's slightly regular so far, but the corners are starting to curve and strange things are starting to happen to it," he laughs.
Hancock hasn't released a solo album since 1997's You Coulda Walked Around the World on his own Rainlight label, but he's been plenty busy with the Flatlanders. After a 30-year recording sabbatical, Hancock, Joe Ely, and Jimmie Dale Gilmore have released three albums in three years. In addition, Hancock's "The Damage Done" appears on 13 Ways to Live (Red House), an anti-war-themed compilation hitting stores Tuesday.
Although staying independent means some of his back catalog is hard to locate, it affords Hancock the luxury of releasing on his own schedule. Accordingly, Hancock is now tentatively planning to release a disc of political songs prior to the election.
"I did one of the songs in Canada with the Flatlanders, and this guy came over to talk to me after the show," relates Hancock. "He must've been one of only two people in the audience that didn't like the song. We had a good, long discussion about it. I told him that every song I've ever written is an anti-war song. That's what the music is all about. Make music, not war."