Three years ago, it was Leon Bridges. Now it might be another old soul's turn to put North Texas on the map.
Local bluesman Charley Crockett announced on Facebook last night that he's been signed by Thirty Tigers, a Nashville-based entertainment company that boasts heavy hitters such as Sturgill Simpson as clients.
"I'm proud to announce that I've signed with @thirtytigers, home of @jasonisbell, @lucinda_williams, @sturgillsimpson, @turnpiketroubadours and so many others," Crockett's post read. "I'm humbled by the support they've shown and lucky to be working with a team that truly eats, sleeps, and breathes this music. Can't wait for y'all to see what we got cooking. There's a big surprise around the turn for you tomorrow, so y'all look out now! We'll see ya on the road real soon."
Thirty Tigers is not a record label. It's a marketing, distribution and management company that allows its artists to retain ownership of their music and creative control of their careers. This arrangement likely sits well with Crockett, who once had a bad experience with Sony.
Crockett is from the Rio Grande Valley and spent time in Dallas an adolescent, but he traveled the country extensively in his late teens and early 20s, busking in cities such as New Orleans and New York.
After a Sony executive saw him performing with trumpet player Charlie Mills and a spoken word poet, he signed the trio to Sony's label. But the contract required the band to perform on a talk show and participate in kitschy games, a role Crockett disliked.
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“My soul wasn’t in it,” Crockett told the Observer in 2015. “So I went to California for two years to sit out my contract.”
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When his stint with Sony was done, Crockett returned to Dallas, where he has become one of the region's most popular and stylish performers. He says his dapper, vintage look is halfway between Hank Williams Sr. and Curtis Mayfield.
Last month, we asked local record shops which DFW artists sell best, and Crockett's June 2016 release, In the Night, came up repeatedly at shops including Chief Records in Fort Worth and Dallas' Spinster Records and Good Records. Last year, he was crowned Best Blues Act in the Dallas Observer Music Awards.
With the support of Thirty Tigers, that award is unlikely to be Crockett's last.