Listen if you care to know
The way that this story goes
Underneath these stars that just refuse
To shine for me
I ain’t got no time to lose
All I got these days are blues
I ain’t got time to lose, baby
I ain’t got no time to be evil
I ain’t got no time to be deceiving all these people
I ain’t got no time to spare
That don’t mean you got to care
But I ain’t got no time to lose, baby
– “Ain’t Got No Time to Lose,” Charley Crockett
I’m not an expert on a lot of things, but let me pass along one of my most solid (brand-new) pieces of advice: when you book a solo acoustic act and his tour manager mentions that he’s on the road with his 5-piece band and asks if it’s okay for them all to sit in on the show, the answer is always yes. At least it should be if you’re dealing with Mr. Charley Crockett and his Blue Drifters.
We were honored and delighted to be the Memphis stop of Charley’s Honky Tonk Jubilee tour, squeezed in between visits to Nashville’s Luck Mansion and Tulsa’s Cain’s Ballroom. Oh, and speaking of jubilees, let me offer one more piece of advice: if you want to win over a Bluff City crowd right quick, starting off the evening with “Night Train to Memphis” is a pretty sure-fire way to do it. From the very beginning, Charley and the boys – Kullen, Colin, Charles, Alexis, and Mayo – had our weeknight crowd shimmying the workday away.
Both sets were a mix of Charley’s own original blend of blues, country, zydeco, R&B, and jazz plus favorites spanning decades and genres. I have to admit that of all the things I was expecting, a twangy, brassy cover of the Andrews Sisters’ hit “Bei Mir Bist Du Schoen” wasn’t one of them, and yet it’s now impossible to imagine the evening – or my life, really – without it. Charley played a couple solo numbers as the room settled back in after intermission, so even with the full band in tow, we still got to enjoy the haunting power of his stripped-down sound. But then everyone got back into place and we flipped back into dance hall mode. We had a whole lot of newbies in the audience, and Maude bless, we may have ruined them. I’m not sure how any of them will adjust to house concerts that don’t include at least two trumpeters.
Lots of people cover old-time tunes, but with Charley ‘n’ em, there’s a sense that getting to play them is a privilege. I think everyone present could feel the joy and the honor the band carried through every song. And since I had the pleasure of getting to spend some time with the guys, I can vouch for the fact that their on-stage charm and charisma is the real deal.
For a show we never expected to happen, it turned out to be one of the clearest expressions of what Folk All Y’all is about: true artistry, a welcoming community, and all the sparkling magic that happens when those things combine. Charley & Co. just finished recording in Memphis and the city makes frequent appearances in their songs, so here’s hoping this is the start of many jubilees to come.
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