When it comes to country, blues, and everything in between, Charley Crockett is a human encyclopedia and consummate performer of it all. And if you’re looking for more “diversity” in country music, Crockett has you covered there too, with African American, Jewish, and Caucasian blood coursing through his veins and a history with Cajun culture, all while being a direct descendant of Davy Crockett if you can believe it.
At this point we’re just lucky to still have Charley Crockett around. While the Texas native was getting ready to have surgery for a seven-year-old hernia condition he’d been suffering from, he was diagnosed with a major heart condition. Born without one of his heart valves, it was determined Crockett needed open heart surgery or he would likely suffer major heart failure in a year or two. The diagnosis resulted in Crockett having to cancel numerous appearances and put other plans on hold in late 2018. Luckily everything worked out for Crockett, and after a few months on the mend, he was back on the road, playing Stagecoach in the spring, making his Grand Ole Opry debut in June, and appearing at the Newport Folk Festival July 26th.
Crockett is also readying the release of his fourth album in two years called The Valley, and many of the songs chronicle Crockett’s struggles with his serious health condition, and the re-evalation of life such an experience can inspire. Recorded just a week before he went in for surgery, The Valley will be released on September 20th via Son of Davy/Thirty Tigers.
“I ended up having two lifesaving heart surgeries in January of this year,” says Charley Crockett. “I recorded this album one week before those surgeries. I needed to have these songs in case I didn’t get through. I needed them just to tell people my story. To show folks what I’ve been through in my life. I feel like I’m living on borrowed time in a lot of ways. It was luck that we discovered my desperate condition and I can’t help feeling that I cheated death somehow. Maybe the creator threw me a bone for pouring my life into my music and putting it first at all costs. I don’t know. What I do know is that life is the valley and everybody has to walk through it, often times alone. I hope that you can hear the sounds of my life in these recordings. They’ve come to mean more to me than any I’ve offered up in my 35 years.”
In those 35 years, Charley Crockett has traveled the country as a street performer and released rag tag independent records, but eventually found his place in both the Americana and Texas music world, embraced by both from his sincerity and musicianship. The Valley was recorded in Wildwood, TX at Fort Horton Studios and co-produced by Crockett, Jay Moeller, and famous roots producer Billy Horton.
“I think I found my sound with working with Billy Horton,” says Crockett. “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.”
Along with releasing his critically-acclaimed 2018 album Lonesome As a Shadow, Crockett has also released both country and blues covers albums, running through numerous classics and paying his dues to the artists and songs that came before him. He’s built a strong following from his showmanship, including opening on numerous tour legs for the Turnpike Troubadours. That’s how he found friendship with the group’s frontman and songwriter, Evan Felker, penning the title track for the new album with the native Oklahoman (listen below).
“Writing with Evan was the easiest thing,” says 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.”
But the songs are all about Charley Crockett on The Valley—just as much a reference to the geographical area of Texas Crockett hails from as the valleys life throw us to balance out the peaks. This can be heard in the album’s first single, “Borrowed Time” (see video below).
“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,” Crockett 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.”
Charley Crokett’s The Valley will be released on September 20th.