Crooks: ATX alt-country badasses are prepared for their great escape.
As romantic as it may appear from the outside, the music business is, for most, a grueling affair. Whether you're out to be "big star bound," as hillbilly bard David Allan Coe put it in his classic song "The Ride," or content paying dues, playing small shows every night and living in a van — there are myriad sacrifices that attend the endeavor. As Townes Van Zandt explains in the brilliant documentary about his life and music Be Here to Love Me, "you've got to turn your back on everything" to really be somebody as a songwriter and musician.
For some, and probably rightfully so, this is too dear a cost to pay. Such certainly seems to be the case with ATX's neo-traditional, hard-driving, outlaw-country act Crooks. Formed in 2008 as an extension of lead man Josh Mazour's (bearded, front and center in the pic above) songwriting aptitude and longing to create a new take on familiar forms, Crooks has dropped two excellent albums and toured extensively on a national level. They've played all the historic Texas dives (a bunch), shared the stage with the likes of Flaco Jiménez and Billy Joe Shaver (to name a few), and gained the attention of both the old and new guard of the country music establishment (whatever that is). But now, as the band recently announced via Facebook, the Crooks' rising star will soon set.
This news surprised the shit out of me on the basis of two particular facts. First of all, this is a young band, at it for barely seven years, and they just released a real doozy of a sophomore album in Wildfirelast summer. Secondly, and totally subjectively, they are just too badass. When I first saw them, opening for Billy Joe Shaver at historic Floore's Country Store, I was blown away by how many elements of the far-flung Texas night the young and impossibly energetic band was able to cram into its tunes. Mariachi? Check. Tear in my beer songs? Check. High emotion and raw truth? Double check. Shit-kicking songs for stomping away the Hill Country chill? You bet.
With so little in the way of freshly minted but nostalgically imagined country music coming my way these days, I was disappointed that one of the best I'd recently heard was calling it quits. Thus, my purpose here is to apprise our dear readers about the impending final opportunities to see this rad band and to clarify why in the heck the band is hanging it up (the Facebook post I mentioned above leaves much to be desired in terms of detail).
First off, the band's final shows will be on January 29 at Floore's Country Store (14492 Old Bandera Rd, Helotes) and February 13 at Antone's (305 E. 5th St, Austin).
As for the reasoning behind Crooks' (seemingly sudden) retreat, Mazour was kind enough to elaborate for the San Antonio Current in an email exchange this week:
"Life on the road is difficult. Most people don't really understand what it takes for bands to be in front of them on a given night. You're usually running a touring circuit, which will put you in that town once every three months or so. And that keeps you on the road full time if you're hitting enough places. It takes a commitment as a group to say that for the next year you will be dedicated to your band, friends, fans, and all those shows you'll book. And that's a lot of fun, too. Don't get me wrong. The past few years have easily been the most adventurous, exciting, challenging and rewarding I've ever had in my 33 years of age. As a band, we're better friends now than we've ever been. We've slid down icy mountains in our van, been stranded in the middle of nowhere, played shows to 3,000 people, played shows to 3 people, and had more late nights/early mornings partying in hotel rooms than I could possibly count. Our fans have become our friends at this point. Whether we're in South Dakota or South Texas, I know there's people I can count on seeing out in the audience, and that count on us doing what we do to give them a place and time to set things aside in life, let their guard down and simply have a good time.
That said, it's time for me to move in another direction in my personal life. What better time than when things are on a high note, so to speak. I'm going to focus on myself and my personal relationships. I'll be moving back to Boerne, TX, where I'm from, and my Mom, Dad, Brother and Sister and their families all live. We are opening a brew pub in Boerne this spring called Cibolo Creek Brewing Co. So I'll still be living in a bar — go figure. I'll just be telling my stories from the other side of it. "
Here's to one last go-round.
Crooks $10-$12, 7pm Fri, Jan. 29, Floore's Country Store, 14492 Old Bandera Rd, Helotes, (210) 695-8827, liveatfloores.com.