Photo by Bobby Cochran
Quarantine Diary: Charley Crockett Is Filming Three Music Videos At Sam's Town Point In Austin
As the coronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic continues to rock the music industry, the Recording Academy reached out to a few musicians to see how they were spending their days indoors. Today, country/blues singer/songwriter Charley Crockett shares his Quarantine Diary. Charley's new LP Welcome To Hard Times is available on July 31 via Thirty Tigers.
Saturday, July 25
[9:30 a.m.] I pull up to Sam's Town Point in south Austin, Tex. Sam’s is a fixture of earlier times in the old school eyes of the hill country. They’ve been closed since the pandemic hit but Ramsay Midwood gave me the OK to come in and film three videos for my album release due this coming Friday. The idea is to pull off something like an old regional country music T.V. program from the '60s. My tour manager David Wilson is down from Dallas with Kevin of Blue Letter Films who I’m meeting for the first time. It’s a tall order but I’m used to squeezing a dollar out of a dime and we’re already late so there’s no time to stand around talking about how dang hot it is.
[12 p.m.] The first set is staged in one of the back houses on Sam’s property. Last time I was in here was during SXSW last spring. They were using it as a hospitality room for artists. Today it’s a scene from a breakfast table and I’m singing my song "Lily My Dear" with my better half, Miss Taylor Grace playing Lily. We’re going for that T.V. magic performance on a shoestring budget, so David is running the backing tracks through a wedge and pointing a shotgun mic at me to create something similar to the vibe they pulled off on major broadcast networks 50 years ago. There’s no AC in this little house and it takes about eight go rounds before we get what we need. I have a quick look at the money take and it looks better than I expected. We’ve got this one in the bag. Time for a breakfast burrito before the next scene.
[1 p.m.] We’re all set up in the little living room off the side of the stage inside the bar to film "Wreck Me." It’s a song I almost pushed as a single for the album but didn’t get around to it. I changed suits with Taylor’s help and we’ve got the set just right. It didn’t take much. The room has an aura about it. That’s probably because of the glowing painting of Jesus with a neon bud light sign floating above it on the wall. I did a photo shoot for a magazine here at Sam’s last fall and they didn’t use the shots from inside this room for some reason. This time it’s my call and Bud Light Jesus is gonna make the cut. "Wreck Me" is one of my favorites to sing off the album. It rolls off my tongue easy. I’ve decided to sing the song into an old yellow rotary phone. I got the idea from seeing Skeeter Davis do it on Country Style USA in the early '60s. She looked a lot better doing it but I’m giving it my best.
[3 p.m.] The second scene went smoother and the fog machine wasn’t acting up so we’re all ready to go on the main stage for the third song "The Man That Time Forgot." I wrote this song in a parking lot off of South Congress in Austin last fall. I figured I wouldn’t get around to making a full on music video for it but I love the dang song and I've got a top notch '60s Miller Western suit so I’ve decided to give it my best George Jones effort. I really enjoy watching segments of the old T.V. performances of Country & Western singers. There’s a melodramatic and theatrical aspect to it that I think has almost vanished in 2020. Folks who see me for the first time on film often wonder if I’m putting them on or playing a joke. I’m gonna lean into that on this take and smile the whole way through the song. Once we add some canned-in claps, that’ll really give them something to talk about.
[5 p.m.] Just about eight hours in and we’ve got all three songs in the bag. A big summer afternoon thunderstorm is doing its thing outside. The only unfinished scene left to shoot is Taylor and Ramsay at the pool table providing a little comic relief. There's a great video of George Jones singing "Things Have Gone To Pieces" on T.V. in the early '60s. The camera cuts quickly to Del Reeves and some out-of-place farmers eating chicken and yelling, "Hey, that’s George Jones!" Ramsay, who owns Sam’s Town Point, was gonna play host on camera but we threw that out due to time constraints and added him in with Taylor for this little bit instead. Taylor looks across the smoke-filled bar and says, "Charley who???" To which Ramsay replies, "Charley Crockett. E-Y, two T’s" as he fumbles his shot with the pool stick. It wasn’t easy to get him to pretend to make a mistake at the pool table since we all know he’s the best of the best around South Austin. It only takes two or three tries to get this one right and before I knew it the fog machine was unplugged and the director yelled "That’s A Wrap."
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