Caleb Wilbourn

Interview: Caleb Wilbourn on “Out West Now”


Caleb Wilbourn — Out West Now

I rinsed out my eyes for the fifth time as purple clouds escaped over the Santa Elena Canyon. The dust storms can really put a callus on your pupil out in Far West Texas, home to picturesque settings that could serve as the backdrop in a John Ford western.

Caleb Wilbourn parked his van out in Terlingua just under a year ago, after years of relentless traveling with music festival vendors.

“Over two summers I went to like thirty five states,” Wilbourn said. “I really got the travel bug and started getting into street performing.”

Wilbourn laughs as he recalls a moment in Florida that left him stranded and forced him to busk his way out.

“I lost my wallet and I had no way to get home,” Wilbourn said. “So I was like ‘well s#$% I’ve seen people play for change on the street, I’ll give it a shot,’ and ended up making really good money the first day I did it.”

Wilbourn spent a month learning the ways of a street performer while living out of his pickup truck that was fitted with a camping shell, twin mattress and a fan.

“I really like to go to cities where I don’t even know anybody,” Wilbourn said. “I’d sneak into State Parks in the middle of the night to use their showers… I had all these other ways to make it easy to live on the road.”

While the vagabond lifestyle is an adventure that can’t be duplicated, Wilbourn now looks forward to the stability he’s found in Far West Texas, where he spent the last year recording “Out West Now” with Bill Palmer at his Terlingua Ranch.

“We did it in July and this place doesn’t have air conditioning,” WIlbourn said with a laugh. “It was almost 120 degrees inside while we were trying to record. It’s an off grid house… my album was made with solar power and just kind of out in the middle of nowhere. It was a really peaceful place to do it.”

Wilbourn recalls the times he spent staying up late with Palmer and a few bottles of rum from the local watering hole, taking inspiration from the open night sky and listening to their heroes.

“He’s a mobile studio. So he got a van that he packs all of his stuff into,” Wilbourn said. “He’s made records for people in Colorado, and Wyoming, and all over Texas and New Mexico all within the last few months.”

Wilbourn placed Out West Now in chronological order, beginning with a song he wrote as a teenager and finishing with “Whisper,” a journal of the past few years on the road and the faith that helped him overcome the hardest moments that strained his mental health.

“There’s a few songs on there that are kind of about trying to turn a new leaf in life and start over,” Wilbourn said. “But you kind of run into the same problems that you were running from to begin with. I’ve had a lot of experiences in my life where I’m like ‘wow I’ve already kind of been here in a way, and been through this.’ There are different faces and places but the lessons learned were kind of the same.”

Caleb Wilbourn

Wilbourn was heavily influenced in the home by his mother, who would play Dixie Chicks albums and sing gospel songs with the choir.”

“She was an amazing vocalist, piano player… was always playing with the church band,” Wilbourn said. “That was my introduction to music. I remember going to see James Taylor for her birthday and I think if I could relive any day in my life it would be going to see that show with her.”

Wilbourn’s father is Methodist pastor, and while Caleb doesn’t claim to know all of the details of the great cosmos he does look to the great creator in the sky as a beacon of light that guided him through the darkest days.

You can find Wilbourn performing these days out in Far West Texas on the outskirts of Big Bend National Park and managing the local Terlingua liquor store. He’s quickly made a name for himself in the desert with his bright personality and will be hosting his first songwriter festival in March.

“And all of your faces are looking at me.
All the heartbreak and madness, the sunshine you’ve seen.
Im hearing a whisper it sounds like its time,
To treat myself better, just leave it behind.”

“Whisper” by Caleb Wilbourn

Hear Out West Now Here:

For more information on Caleb Wilbourn visit:

@calebwilbournmusic on Instagram.





2 thoughts on “Interview: Caleb Wilbourn on “Out West Now”

  1. If you wanna hear some original West Texas music, listen to Hogan Ellis on Spotify. He actually grew up in Terlingua, lived off the grid for FIFTEEN years, and called it home before it was cool. He sings about it’s beauty yes, but also the crippling loneliness, the lack of opportunities for young folk, and missing out on life in the “big city.”

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