This has been a year of many ups and one humongous down for Texas troubadour Hayes Carll. In April, he released "Trouble in Mind," his third album of expertly observed barroom songs, to rave reviews. In addition to American and European tours that brought his raucous live act to a whole new legion of fans, his song "She Left Me for Jesus" won the Americana Music Association's Song of the Year award.
Tempering his excitement over that success, however, is a tragedy. In September, Hurricane Ike leveled many of Carll's old haunts on Bolivar Peninsula in southeast Texas. One of the towns hit hardest by the storm was Crystal Beach, a "community of runaways" where Carll played some of his formative shows.
"It's an area where people can live under the radar," he says. "They've all had pretty colorful lives, maybe don't always pay their taxes, but they look after each other. It's hard to fathom that a good part of that has been wiped out and will never be rebuilt."
Still, Carll is doing his part to preserve that culture, starting with "Trouble in Mind," which he says was a means of recapturing some of the wild times of his youth. "I Got a Gig" in particular describes with a raconteur's flair a particularly rowdy Crystal Beach dive where he had a weekly residence. Every detail, he says, is true, right down to the retired lion tamer.
In the meantime, Carll is currently working to organize a second Stingaree Festival on the peninsula. The first event, in 2007, was held in Crystal Beach, but Ike has forced a move to a seaside fort nearby.
"It'll take on a completely different complexion," he explains. "This year, it'll bring money and attention to the coast and what happened here." That means turning this year's low into next year's high.
Fri., Dec. 5, 9:30 p.m., Tickets - $12-$14
Rock and Roll Hotel
with the John Evans Band