Music / Billy Crockett
Change is the only constant. And music is life. So it follows that the recent transformation of veteran writer-instrumentalist-recording artist Billy Crockett is there in his work for all to hear and to feel. Love for the guitar, the right word, a clear idea, and a refreshing honesty has fed a creativity that has grown into 25 years of hit-yielding albums, touring internationally and virtuoso guitar-playing and brought him to a new perspective and a new album, WISHING SKY (Blue Rock Artists; November 2009).
It’s easy to encapsulate his life. Air Force brat born in Guthrie, Okla.; was settled in Richardson (north of Dallas) by age 6. Got his first guitar that year, a Kay acoustic free with a set of tires his father bought; Dad taught him to play by ear during lunch breaks. Studied jazz at North Texas State University. Earned a B.A. in music engineering at the University of Miami before touring Mexico and Venezuela with Latin pop star Josť Luis (“El Puma”) Rodriguez. As acclaimed contemporary Christian artist, worked with Rich Mullins, Sandi Patty and Dallas Holm, among others, and recorded nine albums for Word Records and his own Walking Angel Records. BMI songwriter at Austin’s SXSW Music Festival, Artist-in-Residence at the Academy of Gospel Music Arts, guitar clinician for Yamaha International. Earned a master’s degree in 2005 from Southern Methodist University.
It’s a little harder to describe what happened between the lines, where Crockett changed and grew and a new point of view began to crystallize. But you can hear it.
He stopped touring and recording and in the quiet, he and his wife, Dodee, began creating their shared dream, Blue Rock Artist Ranch and Studio, a high-end recording facility, artist retreat and performance space on 19 pristine acres in the Texas Hill Country that they opened in 2006. As creative director, he produces albums for some of music’s most vital artists, edits a thriving journal on creative process and hosts a popular concert series. A track from an album recorded at Blue Rock earned a 2010 GRAMMY nomination: Sarah Jarosz’s “Mansinneedof” from her SONG UP IN HER HEAD, produced by Gary Paczosa.
The stillness also yielded PASSAGES (Blue Rock Artists, 2006), an album of classical guitar pieces, unhindered by words and ideologies, that he wrote and recorded.
WISHNG SKY, produced by Crockett at Blue Rock, features 13 timely and candid folk- pop story-songs; contributions by Jon Dee Graham, Ray Bonneville, Pierce Pettis and Lloyd Maines; a wide landscape of subjects and moods; flowing melodies and expressive lyrics; and the gusto of a man reunited with his first true love.
“These songs are my most personal so far,” Crockett says. “I am singing the gypsies, the howling dogs, the gaps and mysteries, the sweetness and silent remains of life as I know it. I have tried to do what poets must: tell it true. And this is more fun now than ever.”
Jill McGuckin, 512.217.9404; firstname.lastname@example.org