Busking the Blues: Watch Charley Crockett Transform His Life on the Road Into Inspired Music

If there's one thing Charley Crockett knows about, it's busking. Arguably our city's most rambling artist, Crockett has a reputation for hopping on trains and crossing borders to find his next pop-up venue. He's played the streets everywhere from New Orleans to Paris. That said, it should surprise no one that he's being featured on the 33rd episode of the Dallas Observer's busking series.

"I lived in Denmark for a couple of months and played music there until I wore out my welcome,” Crockett says. "Then I meandered on down through Belgium and ended up in Paris, France, actually. So, I lived there for about a year, playing on the street — which was really, really good for me.”

Crockett has spent a good piece of his life traveling the globe, collecting experiences and molding his sound into the velvety, Delta-blues that can be heard on last year’s album Stolen Jewel and this year’s In The Night. Not to mention, his experiences have landed him four nominations from this year's Dallas Observer Music Awards, including Best Album and Best Male Vocalist.

Sitting on a bridge above Union Station, Crockett casually leans against the railing as trains chug sleepily by, and shares stories about his musical development before kicking off this episode’s track list with “I Am Not Afraid.” He’s very matter-of-fact when it comes to his biggest geographical influences — namely, Dallas and New Orleans — but he also stresses that the art of hitchhiking has been key in his ability to see the world and expand his understanding of his art.

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After a quick change of scenery, Crockett can be seen inside the echoing halls of the train station. The acoustics of the space add a little kick of magic to his next song, also the title of his latest album, “In The Night,” which if we’re being honest is one of the greatest introductory songs to Crockett’s definitive brand of blues.

To Crockett, there was something altogether spiritual about his travels; almost as if he was being pulled through some sort of existential journey, as prescribed by the godfathers of train-hopping musicians. "You know, when you don’t speak the language in a country, as an artist, then that really puts you in an isolated situation where you sink or swim. It gave me strength to get out there and play on the street, because I didn’t really know or couldn’t communicate with anybody."


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