20 Questions with Texas Country Star Bart Crow
I had the opportunity to sit down and pick the brain of Texas country star Bart Crow before his show at Wild West in Lubbock on July 23rd. Bart talked everything from live on the road, live now as a father, country music today and all in between. Here is the interview, in its near entirety, from that day.
99.5 The Bear: How has 2011 been for you so far?
Bart Crow: It’s been really good. We put out our first live record and then our wife and I had our first child. So 2011 has been really good for me.
99.5 The Bear: How does it feel that your music is expanding beyond Texas and Oklahoma?
Bart Crow: With all due respect to Texas, Oklahoma and the fans, it’s awesome. It’s awesome that there have been some other bands that have laid some groundwork out in other parts of the world and states to kind of allow us to follow behind them with this red dirt/Texas thing to the masses. We get to give it to those people who don’t get it as much as we do.
99.5 The Bear: You get to play in Europe next month, how do you get shows like that or have you played there before?
Bart Crow: We have three shows in Italy and one in France coming up. We are extremely excited about that. We haven’t played there before but it goes back to the last question and it’s those other bands that have gone over there and played for those promoters. It’s just allowed opportunities for other bands to go over there and play.
99.5 The Bear: What’s it about playing west Texas and Lubbock that you like so much?
Bart Crow: Lubbock has such a huge long line of musical history with Buddy Holly and Waylon Jennings and Bob Wills and a bazillion others I can’t think of. My grandfather lived at Buffalo Springs Lake for about 25 years so I spent all my summers out here and he played music. So it’s neat to come back now that I play music and go to those places he used to take me as a kid.
Back to the rich and deep heritage of music that Lubbock holds. A long time ago and up to when Pat [Green] and Wade [Bowen] and those guys went to school here, it’s like they rebirthed the music out here. It’s really cool. Now it’s reinvented itself and it’s pretty cool.
99.5 The Bear: You mentioned this at the beginning but you have a kid now. How is life on the road now that you have a kid at home?
Bart Crow: It definitely has its ups and downs. I try to get as much sleep as I can on the road. I hate leaving but once we are gone I like being gone so we can get our work done and be focused. It’s defiantly changed the getting home part of it though. It used to be ok to stay out on a Saturday night and got home late on Sunday but now it’s kind of a hustle to get home and get back to the wife and kid.
99.5 The Bear: Are you enjoying being on the road or are you ready to get to the studio?
Bart Crow: I like being on the road. The studio is intimidating. The studio is where you put all your eggs in one basket and you work in this very controlled environment that you aren’t used to being in and you spend night and day there for a few weeks or months. It’s a learning process and when you feel you’re getting used to it and comfortable, you’re done. Then it’s back out on the road and its live shows. I would say live shows for comfort though.
99.5 The Bear: Even though you aren’t in the studio now, are you working on a new album?
Bart Crow: Absolutely. I think a misconception down here in the independent music scene is you don’t go a write a record. You write towards a new record. The majority of the artists in this genre are probably like me and try to write a little bit of something every day. Hopefully through this pile of mayhem and music you get a few ones that are worthy.
99.5 The Bear: How do you think your work and music has evolved over the ten years you have been doing this?
Bart Crow: Man that’s a good question. I think it’s matured a lot. My knowledge of music and music structure and my ability to play and write music has gotten better with repetition. I’m still searching for that golden egg though. I think it will just continue to evolve and always will. Hopefully I’ll find this direction that I’ve always been looking for but don’t know what is.
99.5 The Bear: How do you think Texas Country has evolved over the past ten years?
Bart Crow: When I started 8 or 10 years ago there were probably 20 or 30 bands and now there is like 2,000. I know it’s tacky to throw that shot out there because I’m on the receiving end of when that shot was coming from the generation before me. I think it’s evolved in a positive and a negative. I think it’s a positive in that it’s taken independent music by people who worship music to those who worship listening to music. It’s a way to connect. I also think the guys that are out there are really taking it to the masses. They are raising an eyebrow to what’s going on down here in Texas like they did in the 70s.
The negative side of it is there are a lot of great artists and a lot of great bands, and my hats are off to them, and I think everyone should have the opportunity to try because I was once that person, but everyone who thinks they can play the G,C and D chords can play country music. It’s not that easy and you don’t just get to do it. But if you take it serious and bust your ass then you deserve some reward.
99.5 The Bear: At the same time do you think that over saturation of artists can hurt the genre?
Bart Crow: It makes it more challenging for bands and songwriters to stay on their A game because there is a lot of competition. I don’t know though. I really don’t care too much to worry about it. I’m just trying to do my part to do my part in music and be a solid musician and try to become a good songwriter and worry about me and my band. I just want to be a spoke that shines a little brighter on the Texas music wheel. There is some oversaturation but who am I to judge?
99.5 The Bear: What’s the biggest difference from the music they make in Nashville and the music they make in Texas?
Bart Crow: I think it’s a different audience. I don’t think there’s a damn thing wrong with it. If you waste your time and energy and worry about what they are doing in Nashville instead of just worrying about yourself, then I think that’s ridiculous. You’re not going to change the world. All you can do is be true to yourself and write your songs and worry about yourself and not other people. Let the Nashville guys be the Nashville guys and let the Texas guys be the Texas guys. IF the Texas guys want to take their music to Nashville then let them. I can’t stand the word sellout. You continually challenge yourself and hope for green pastures. I commend every artist that has gone from writing songs and scraping up money to make a record to getting that break; whether it’s in Nashville or New York or L.A. or wherever.
You know I did my last album in Nashville and it has that word Nashville attached to it so there have been some eyebrows and noses raised. That’s such an ignorant stance to take though. First off, I did it in the basement of a guy’s house on the east side of Nashville. It was a studio but still in a basement. I just think it’s just a ridiculous argument to worry about it. There is music outside of Texas and Oklahoma. I am like all our counterparts though in that I would like to transform everyone to listen to our kind of music but at the same time I don’t know how realistic that is. All you can do is be yourself and play your own music. Let those people who like Nashville like it and let those who like Texas and being true like Texas.
99.5 The Bear: So that’s kind of like what Pat [Green] did? He was true to his music and took it to a bigger level to share the love of Texas.
Bart Crow: I don’t know Pat Green that well; we met only a few times. I was his #1 supporter though when he first made his transition out to Nashville because we were just starting out in bars and dives. People would tell us “don’t do that sell out crap like Pat Green,” to which I thought was the most ridiculous argument and you are ridiculous. The guy conquered this state and just went on state by state. He is now able to make albums that are very well produced instead of making cheaper albums. My hat’s off to him and to anyone who does that. You can’t fault anyone who tries to better their career.
99.5 The Bear: Who is someone you have always wanted to work with or do a show with?
Bart Crow: Ha, that’s a long list. I mean a really long list. Radney Foster comes to mind just because I grew up in the Foster and Lloyd era and listened to the stuff he did with the Randy Rogers records. I’m a big Steve Earle fan and I was reading an interview saying he enjoys producing albums for younger band; in his words, and I quote, “untainted bands.” That’s been a big curiosity of mine. I have a friend that is a friend with his manager so we’d like to use those channels to get to him. I think that would be a really awesome opportunity to work with someone like him.
On the flip side though I had a very good friend tell me to let your heroes or the people who inspire you be themselves. You could meet them and work with them and be let down.
99.5 The Bear: Who do you really dig right now musically outside of the Texas Country genre?
Bart Crow: I’ve just recently gotten into a band called Deer Tick and I’m really enjoying them. I just bought an Amos Lee record too. Those are my new things I’m presenting to myself. I really love the new Steve Earle record. I don’t see him as a sellout. I think he’s a guy that makes music, period. He uses his influences he finds around the world to make the music he makes. I’m not stuck on types of music, I’m just like music. I think my favorite all time Steve Earle record is “I Feel Alright.” It’s from start to finish his finest work. I’m a really late bloomer into the Beatles. We spin a lot of vinyl at the Crow house. We have about a 300 count record collection. It’s got everything from Barry White to Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young to Blind Faith to Jim Croce. We keep it diverse.
We play records to our son, Townes, and we play him a record a day and read him two books a day. Before I left last week we played him Rolling Stones “Tattoo You.”
99.5 The Bear: What is the best advice you’ve ever been given musically?
Bart Crow: Be yourself and stay true to yourself. I think I’ve done that. There was a time when my entire world revolved around drinking beer, partying, chasing girls and cutting up. Now I’m a married man with a 5 month old child and I have larger things to think about so I write from that point of view. I was disappointed in the lack of sales or success of our last studio record Heartworn Tragedy, but that was extremely the experiences I was going through at the time. My mother’s alcoholism had come to a head and exploded; some friends of mine came back from war and were engulfed in post-traumatic stress disorder. So I wrote a lot of stuff from my soul, but I don’t think it’s a lot of stuff people want to hear; which is cool. But it’s just staying true to yourself and not being a butt hole. That was the biggest tip I got from someone was to not be an ass and I’m not.
99.5 The Bear: Let’s do some word association and you tell me the first thing that comes to your mind when I say these artists’ names.
Josh Abbott – Lubbock
Rich O’Toole- Marijuana and Jalapenos
Stoney LaRue – Amazing Voice. I think that guy sings like a bird
Randy Rogers – Conqueror. Who wouldn’t want that guy’s touring schedule.
Steve Earle – The epitome of staying true to who you are.
Willie Nelson – Zero negative can be said about Willie in my book. He is the epitome of everything we all want to be musically. Willie is Willie man. Why can’t we all be Willie? God Bless Willie Nelson and I just hope I’m that cool when I’m that age.
99.5 The Bear: How big is social media to you?
Bart Crow: Let’s just say that I embrace it because that’s where we are in our lifetime. Do I want to take all things Facebook associated with Bart Crow and wad them up and throw them in the trash and burn it, absolutely. It’s not because of the fan side though because that’s the other side of the coin to me that I absolutely admire. Someone can tell me, ‘hey man I dig that,’ or they can also say ‘hey I liked your other album better than this one.’ It was a great way of connecting with the fans and getting to know them. Last night was the perfect example. We were in Denver and about 4 or 5 different people saw us in Steamboat and they contacted us through Facebook and said we’re making the drive to see you. So there’s that side which is amazing but there is also the other side where I just want to stay in contact with my family and not hear requests and people asking me to come play at their mom’s house. The side where I get to know the fans though is pretty cool and it completely touches my heart when I get a message when someone sends me a message telling me one of my songs is in their wedding or it’s their first dance. There is defiantly a huge upside to social media and I always write back and say thank you or reach out to the fans that way.
I know I just got really long winded on this answer but here is the perfect example to wrap this up. When I was in the army in 95 to 98 I was in the Robert Earl Keen 5 Pound Bass Club. There wasn’t an internet, or Facebook or Twitter and monthly I would go to my mailbox at the barracks and look forward to getting my Robert Earl Keen flyer. It would just be a pamphlet that would unfold and tell you the tour dates and what was going on. That was a cool thing.
99.5 The Bear: You’ve been all Texas and have eaten at plenty of places, I’m sure. What’s your favorite spot to eat at in the state?
Bart Crow: I don’t know if I have an absolute place but here in Lubbock I love the Triple J Chophouse. They have a chicken pot pie that they have I always have. This will be the first time in the last four years that I haven’t had it. They have that chicken pot pie and the windmill wheat beer. In Lubbock, that’s my favorite place.
99.5 The Bear: What’s your favorite place to play?
Bart Crow: You know the first time we got to play Billy Bob’s was pretty magical. You think of the people who have graced that stage, or recorded there or just been there, that was pretty neat. Then you go backstage at Billy Bob’s and you see the autographs of all the people who have played there: Moe Bandy, Joe Stampley, Merle Haggard, George Jones, Journey, Styx and Fleetwood Mac. It’s just a magical place. Man to be a fly on that wall. Imagine the stories.
99.5 The Bear: What’s now left for 2011?
Bart Crow: Continue touring, trying to be better, writing songs, going to Nashville and writing or writing in Austin. Then in the fall we’re going into the studio to start our next album which will be released sometime in 2012. That’s what you do; you make records and you tour.
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