Seattle-based independent country artist Aaron Crawford was so impressed with Spokane-based homeless organization Blessings Under the Bridge that he asked to return to help the group raise money again, and he’ll do so next Friday at “An Intimate Evening of Blessings Under the Stars” at The Spokesman-Review.
Crawford chatted on his cellphone during a break from a windy day at the beach on Tuesday afternoon, with his 1½-year-old happily chattering away in the background.
You’re set to perform at the “An Intimate Evening of Blessings Under the Stars” benefit for Blessings Under the Bridge on Oct. 18 in Spokane. How did the event come about for you?
We’ve done an event with them before and absolutely love what they’re doing to assist the homeless in Spokane. We got to see what they’re doing firsthand, and it is a legitimate charity and event. We asked if we could please be a part of the benefit going forward.
You’re an independent country music artist based in Seattle. What does it mean to be independent?
I don’t have a record label or a management company. I work with my wife on all the bookings, management decisions and more, and it’s great. There are a lot of upsides of being an independent artist. One day it would be great to be on a record label, but right now we have that freedom to do what we want to do right now. You’re your own boss.
How is the country music scene in Seattle?
Growing! And in Seattle and the great Northwest. I started out as a duo, and I’ve been a solo artist now for about six years. A lot of people think that they have to move to Nashville or Texas to be a country singer, but country music doesn’t have to be geographically based. We’re starting to see more people put down roots here.
You blend traditional country with the Seattle sound of Nirvana, Pearl Jam and Foo Fighters. How’d that happen?
I grew up here in Seattle, and my grandpa was a fan of Willie Nelson and Johnny Cash and Merle Haggard. Growing up listening to their music was influential and it becomes a part of what you’re doing. I like to take the rock side of grunge and mix it with my country music.
How did you get your start in country music?
It’s been eight years now, and I’ve done a few bands and music projects – my degree is in church music. While I was performing in churches, a friend of mine at a country music station told me about a friend who needed a frontman, and I decided to give it a go.
It has been one of the best decisions I’ve made. Working as a duo, we made a record in Nashville and performed 160 dates in the Midwest in one summer. But my partner couldn’t keep going, and I made a decision to keep going solo and released an independent album. We still keep in touch once a month, and he produced my album “Evergreen.”
Tell me about your new album, “Hotel Bible.”
I travel a lot and perform about 100 shows a year and am constantly in different settings. I keep a memo on my phone. I called it my Hook Book, and I’ll write memos and descriptors. I was in a hotel and opened the drawer, and there was the Gideon Bible.
The Christian religion tends to be more liberal in thinking. As my lyric says, “I’m not looking for a tent revival, I’d settle for a hotel Bible.” It’s not about snake charming and radicalism. It represents being a little bit better in life.
And Cascade Country, the label you founded.
Cascade Country is a vessel for people to get out there in the Northwest, to stay here and do your thing. We want to support you and get you out there, plant a flag and get out there. This is Cascade Country, so the name reflects the geographic location and mountains.
Whose music are you listening to now – who are your inspirations?
I’m a big fan of Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson, Foo Fighters, Soundgarden and Pearl Jam and most recently throwback current artists like Chris Stapleton and Luke Combs. I like to hit thrift stores that sell vinyl for cheap and buy records by Buck Owens, Merle Haggard and George Jones. I really tap into that.
What is keeping you busy right now?
I’m focused on writing for a new record, and I’ve been hanging out with my 1 1/2-year-old. I’d like to release a new record in late spring, so I’m getting songs written and arranged and produced and recorded.
Kids put a new perspective on everything. Your life takes a turn, and I’m looking to see where that takes me. Meantime, I’m filling the calendar with shows and hoping to stay busy during the holidays.
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