Kate and Caroline chatted to Charley Crockett following his magnificent performance on the Interstate stage at The Long Road Festival.
CL: We just saw your set in the Interstate Stage. It was fabulous. Did you enjoy it?
Charley: We did, and we are doing it again later!
CL: We know we have it in our diaries; 10.30!
Charley: Half past ten we are going in!
CL: That is after Kip, so kicking it off into the late night.
CL: You were just playing Tonder festival with Leslie Stevens, how was it?
Charley: Yes, Mam, I sure was. It was wonderful. It was a beautiful festival I have no complaints. It was really, really special. Just like this one. Very roots based. I’ve heard a lot of European roots stuff that I have never heard before. It’s really great music from all over the world.
CL: Have you just played Brighton or are you just about to?
Charley: I played Brighton a few days ago. We just played Newcastle last night and Glasgow the night before that.
CL: I bet that was pretty raucous?
Charley: You’d better believe it.
CL: How are you feeling? You had major surgery last year?
Charley: I sure did.
CL: You’re looking good, how is it being back on the road again?
Charley: It’s the only thing I do. It is where I want to be. I feel better than I did. I didn’t realise I was so ill. Sometimes you are dying and you do not know about it. Now I am living I am doing a lot better. Thanks for asking about that, I really appreciate it.
CL: No problem, we are so happy to see you and that you’re well. Your sound is so special. When I saw you on the stage, it is the first time that I have seen you live. It is very much 1950’s, back to the old Bristol Tennessee. I have not heard anything like it over here in the UK and it’s so special to see it live. My friend and I were at the Nashville Boogie Weekender in May and saw a lot of that style of music and dress. She just said to me ‘It reminds me of the Nashville Palace’. It is the same era isn’t it?
Charley: Yes, The Nashville Boogie Weekender is special. I love the Nashville Palace, I love playing there.
CL: Tell us about ‘Little G.L.”
Charley: Little G.L? (He opens his jacket to show us the label)
CL: (gasps!) The Nudie suit – made by Fort Lonesome – a customised one for you?
Charley: Yes, it’s a Fort Lonesome Suit in the style of a Nudie suit. It is high quality but these gals have their own thing that they do out of Austin, where I live.
CL: It is probably the same place that Midland had their suits made?
Charley: Yeah, the same people.
CL: What does it mean? Nudie in the UK means naked!
Charley: It does in the States as well, but the brand – the suit maker, Nudie he is so famous (Nuta Kotlyarenko – known professionally as Nudie Cohn an American tailor who designed rhinestone covered suits known as ‘Nudie Suits’).
CL: They have the Nudie suits of famous Americans hung on the walls in Nudie’s Bar in Broadway Nashville.
CL: So tell us about Little G.L. This is you, is it a side personality?
Charley: Yes, it is my nickname. There was a fifties R&B singer that has a cult following. He is from Mississippi, his name was G.L. Crockett he had a couple of hits; “It’s A Man Down There’ which I put on one of my records and another one called ‘Look Out Mabel’. Anyway, I was recording a record in Austin with a really amazing Texas musician called Jay Moeller and he started calling me ‘Little G.L’ as my last name was Crockett. He was just joking around with me saying maybe I’m his little cousin from several generations earlier. I really liked that name. I record a lot of old country and blues stuff so I use the Little G.L. label to put out those records in between my original, more commercial records. There is more money in that stuff as they get promoted etc.
CL: Do you have any more European dates to play before you go home?
Charley: Yes, we are playing in Paris, France tomorrow.
CL: You have played there before haven’t you?
Charley: Yes, I played on the streets in Paris for a year when I was young. I played all over.
CL: Wow! How was that?
Charley: The Language barrier was difficult.
CL: They do not understand English let alone American, ha!
Charley: Even if they did understand it they were not going to speak it. With my Texas and Louisiana heritage, and with my music they really liked me over there. I played in a club for the first time last year and this will be our first time going back and headlining. Then we go to Spain for five days, a festival or two and some club dates; Madrid, Barcelona and Valencia.
CL: Country music is very popular in Spain isn’t it?
Charley: There is something about the Spanish. I am really excited about this trip. They have been making a lot of noise.
CL: I bet they have. We have some Spanish friends that flew out this morning from Madrid that are here. They run a country music radio station in Madrid.
Charley: They are into the roots stuff too, rockabilly, blues stuff etc. It is real big thing down there.
CL: There is no real language barrier with music is there?
Charley: Sure enough, that is right.
CL: We are at The Long Road Festival so metaphorically or literally, what is the longest road that you have travelled?
Charley: Well, there is one road that we all travel on that never ends, you know what I mean? That is the long road, the one I am on. I have this record that is called ‘The Valley” it is about the valley that is life. If you think about it, life is just one long road and it doesn’t even end when we die. You just go somewhere else. But as a real road, the longest continuous road, there is a road – Highway 50 – in the western parts of the United States. It is called the ‘loneliest highway in America’, that is its nickname. There is nothing on the road, it is all mountains, desert, salt flats… that is the longest highway I have ever been down and I drive it any chance that I get.
CL: What is next for you after this?
Charley: I’m dropping this record (The Valley) on the 20th and then I’m touring that. I made my debut on the Grand Ole Opry this Summer. We have some things that we are doing with them. I am hoping to be doing more with them next year and keep playing a lot of shows. I live in Austin but I really live on the ‘long road’.
Caroline: My cousin lives in Austin, I am going to have to visit her.
Charley: You must, it is a special music town. There is no place like it. Like New Orleans, it has its own things.
CL: Thank you so much. We are looking forward to seeing you on The Front Porch at 10.30 tonight.
Charley: Thank you, it was a pleasure, you are making me nervous now!