Charlie Crowe on the Nashville Scene

March 22, 2011

Plenty of people know Charlie Crowe from his years of touring with Brooks and Dunn. Those who attended Guitar Player’s Guitar Superstar 2010 competition remember him from his kickass performance that nabbed him third place honors. Here Crowe spins a little knowledge gleaned from his life on and off the road. —MB

What was the key to you getting the Brooks and Dunn gig?

Being connected is key to getting a shot at any gig. I was on their radar when they needed a guitarist. Their manager had known me from the club days and put in a good word. Then, I had to pass the audition.

After being on the road for so long, what made you decide to get off?

I was 45 and hadn’t really taken any risks since I left Kentucky. I’d always wanted to create something on my own but I kept putting it off. Plus, my kids were starting school and didn’t like me leaving every weekend. It was just time.

What did you do to ease that transition? Did you have work waiting for you when you got off the road?

It wasn’t easy. Leaving that comfort zone was very awkward. I was lucky enough to have had some songwriting success and got to coast for a couple of years. My wife works, too. I buckled down on writing, guitar playing, recording, and home improvements.

How has the Nashville scene changed over the past 15 years in your opinion?

This town was printing money when I got here. Millions of CDs were sold and iPods were nonexistent. These days, there’s a lot less money being made, but I’m optimistic about some of the new music I’m hearing. There seem to be more new acts using their road bands in the studio. Song lyrics that are more daring and productions with less polish are breaking through. Zac Brown Band, Jason Aldean, and Jamey Johnson come to mind.

Is there a sideman gig you’d like to have right now?

Garth Brooks still hasn’t called me. I want to tour and open for Satch and maybe play rhythm guitar during his set.

Do you have any tips for people who want to get into the Nashville songwriting scene?

You really need to live here. Co-writes are the norm. There are very few examples of people who successfully write from outside an industry town. Before you pack, go to nashvillesongwriters.com, join, and start researching and networking from there. There are also many open-mic places to try out your material. Come to town for a few days and hang.

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