The blue neon sign of Tulsa’s Mercury Lounge was a beacon for Charley Crockett fans on Thursday night. Fans crowded into the bar and made Thursday night’s performance the third sold-out show for Charley Crockett at the Mercury Lounge in the last year.
Opening the evening was Texas musician, Vincent Neil Emerson, who just recently signed on to the Red 11 Music roster. Red 11 boasts an impressive array of artists which includes Shooter Jennings, Ray Wylie Hubbard and the Turnpike Troubadours. This was my first time to hear Emerson live and afterwards it was clear to me why he was added to Red 11’s immensely talented group of artists. His East-Texas drawl is endearing and easy on the ears, both in his stage banter and in his songs. Emerson’s songwriting is reminiscent of those from earlier years of country music, which makes sense when he cites his music influences to be the likes of Townes Van Zandt and John Prine. Emerson started his set off with “Fried Chicken and Evil Women” a rollicking song with a honky-tonk vibe. “Letters on a Marquee”, “Willie Nelson’s Wall”, “ 7 Come 11″ and cover of “Randall Collins” were also part of the set. Very few of the songs in the set were from Emerson’s 2016 debut album, East Texas Blues. Many songs were new material that Emerson mentioned would be on his upcoming album, set to release within the next year. Ending the set with a Jerry Jeff Walker cover, “ Gettin’ By”, Emerson’s tattooed fingers danced over the guitar strings and earned him loud cheers from the packed house.
Immediately after Emerson’s set ended, fans pushed forward to the small stage, jockeying for position and making it impossible to move in the already small dive bar. Taking the stage around 10:30, Charley Crockett and his band, The Blue Drifters, got down to business belting out the song, “Maybelle”. Charley’s set included a good mix of songs from his three albums, including music from his latest album, Lonesome As A Shadow, which was just released this past April. Crowd favorites, “If Not the Fool” and “Jamestown Ferry” prompted a group sing-a-long.
Normally I’m not a huge fan of covers, but there are a few artists that I think can put a unique spin on their covers and Charley happens to be one of those artists. Charley’s best cover in my opinion is, “How I Got to Memphis” although his take on “The Race is On” is a close second. An experienced entertainer, Crockett took loud song requests and at times, drunken good-natured heckling in stride and continued wowing the crowd with his own special brand of honky-tonk, Texas swing and New Orleans flair. There is nothing better than seeing an entertainer truly love what he does and that is evident when watching Crockett during his energetic and dynamic performances.