Grinning from ear to ear, Charley Crockett strutted out onto the Palomino stage at Stagecoach two weekends ago in a lime green suit and immediately put to rest any doubts that he’d back up his tough talk about playing at festivals.
Before my eyes could adjust to the shocking green on stage, Charley and his band launched into “Jukebox Charley.” And when he hit the opening chorus, Crockett made an otherwise sad song sound almost defiant:
“Jukebox Charley. Yeah, that’s my name.”
Charley Crockett had arrived at the Stagecoach festival in a lime green suit. “Deal with it,” he seemed to say.
Crockett went on with his set, and I thoroughly enjoyed “dealing with it.” It wasn’t just the green suit drawing me in. He danced and swiveled from bandmate to bandmate. He held his guitar in aggressive positions out to his side, upright, and over his head.
He kept grinning, with a glint in his eye that said “I TOLD you I’d put on a SHOW.”
You couldn’t take your eyes off of him, for fear of missing the next surprise he had up his sleeve.
Far from his hardscrabble life as a street performer, Charley nonetheless channeled that part of his history into his Stagecoach set. When you play for tips on the New York subway or on the street corners in New Orleans, you’d better bring something special that draws in a crowd and gets people to stop and throw some money in your jar.
Crockett didn’t have custom, green suits back then. But I get the feeling that he crafted his showmanship on those streets.
His set ended too early for my liking, and Charley and the green suit disappeared backstage. But the performance stuck with me, just like Zach Bryan’s would later that weekend.
When you’re fortunate enough to see a musician perform live, their personality, emotion, and style adds a new dimension to the music. Charley’s music is great. But live, accompanied by a knowing grin and green suit that only the supremely confident Charley Crockett could pull off, the show bordered on spectacular.
And I can’t wait to see what Jukebox Charley is wearing the next time I see him put on a show.