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LINCOLN CROCKETT: Reviews

"Last summer, to gather material for the article "Both Ends of the Rope: On Audiences and Venues" in the October, 2009 Victory Review, I sent out a request to acoustic musicians for stories about venues where they've played... Portland mandolinist-guitarist and songwriter Lincoln Crockett sent back this interesting response:" [read full response HERE]

"Nothing Makes Me Feel Good"
on Lincoln Crockett, Angels & Devils Alike
(self published, 2007).

I heard Portland mandolinist-guitarist-songwriter Lincoln Crockett play this one on Thursday, October 1st at Conor Byrne Pub, for a $5 cover. He and singer-songwriter-fiddler Chris Kokesh were on the tail end of a regional tour celebrating her upcoming release October Valentine and his going on "hiatus." Later, I was glad that I'd picked up his solo album. It's a fine piece of work, meticulously self-produced and masterfully played, full of intricate arrangements that speak of long hours woodshedding to get the fingerings and mixes right.

For several years, Crockett and his friends have played a circuit of little clubs on either side of the Columbia river, with occasional forays up here. I heard him give a workshop on songwriting at the 2006 Northwest Folklife Festival, and got on his mailing list. Three years later, between sets that October night at Conor Byrne, he was saying wearily that "trying to make a living as a traveling musician is crazy." Yes it is. The two of them were lucky if they made $500 that night. From the stage, he joked while introducing this song that "depression is an occupational hazard, but songwriter gold." Yes, "There is clinical help for you. It's called music..."

The Conor Byrne is a venerable Seattle venue with a long history of welcoming acoustic musicians, but it has an odd shape. It's a long, narrow storefront with the bar on the left side, the stage in the back, and brick walls throughout that music and conversation bounce off with equal force. Loud couples drinking in the front nearer to the street can seem totally disconnected from the stage in the back where the show is going on. Crockett and Kokesh gave first-rate performances that night, driving well-crafted songs up through spirals of four-chord changes, then across unexpected cloud bridges into furious jams featuring tight 16th-note counterpoint between his mandolin and her fiddle, before descending gently to a landing on the other side. Those in the back, nearer to the stage, were moved and clapped happily.

Lincoln Crockett has posted two more albums to CD Baby, In Pictures and Play in the Yard. Now is taking a break. After several wearying years performing at all sorts of venues up and down the west coast, Crockett has gone on "hiatus" to spend less time on the road making strangers happy, and more time closer to those he loves. Because I enjoy his music, and know full well how frustrating it can be to perform acoustic music in noisy bars, I wanted to get an interview with him before he disappears from public altogether. So I sent him last month's description of his solo CD, and that did the trick. While on vacation with his young family, he sent back the thoughtful responses that follow..." [read full interview HERE]
“Transcendent experience”
“Your songs are moving”
“Your songwriting and mandolin playing is amazing”
“Your voice is like a lazer, its incredible”
“Your music was healing - I felt like every song was sung right to me about what I’m going through”
"My hair is still standing on end!"
"He's the real deal."
"Perfect."
"Listening to his music is uplifting."
"I am so hard to impress and I can't get over how good that was."
"Turned my day around."
"I couldn't believe it was just one guitarist."
"Totally amazing. He looked so comfortable doing all that."
"I am sooooo relaxed, I can't believe it."
"Fantastic, I was mezmerised"
"I could listen to that voice all day"
"You are truly talented"
"You blew us away!"
"Writing and composition are exceptional!"
"You give me hope for the future"
"There's soul behind that music!"
Audience Responses
"The best album ever made by anyone I know."
"This is the soundtrack to this time in our lives."
"Truly beautiful."
"We listen to it several times a day! Can't get enough of it!"
"It went into our 5-disk changer and it's the only disk that hasn't come back out!"
"It hasn't left my car!"
"You were the soundtrack to our Thanksgiving. We listened to it non-stop and learned every word."
"It's so rich! Every listen I get more and more out of it."
"I just keep thinking, 'that one's about me, and that one's about me, and that one...' Are they all about me?!"
"We can't get enough of 'Nothing Makes Me Feel Good'. Strangely, every time I listen to it I feel better."
"I listened to 'Open Wide' on the way to work 7 times in a row!"
Responses to ANGELS & DEVILS ALIKE
"There's nothing wrong with old-school, but the real fun comes with those who push envelopes. As with blues, jazz, even country and rock 'n' roll, those who bring something new to the party help propel genres to higher levels.

Such is the case with Lincoln Crockett, a young lion on the Portland bluegrass scene. A regular in Cross-Eyed Rosie, the Josh Cole Band and Caravan Gogh, Crockett has released a new solo project that radiates all that's good about the progressive side of bluegrass. A sterling mandolin picker, guitarist and compelling singer, he has produced a 12-song piece of work that might have traditionalists scratching their heads, but new-grassers will gravitate to it like moths to a porch light.

It will be hard to avoid comparisons to Nickel Creek's Chris Thile, but that might be more happenstance than anything stylistically plagiaristic. Crockett owns the requisite high-and-lonesome voice -- plaintive, achingly bittersweet and clear as creekwater, without a hint of vibrato -- and he's not afraid to use it. Like Thile, he's fearless and playful, but can clearly stand on his own.

He is also a fiery player who slashes his custom twin-point mandolin when called for, but who displays a feather-light touch on the tender tunes. Crockett has a predilection for more complex chording, and he lets that predilection shine throughout this largely original effort.

Though his playing can be a shade on the outside (in a good way), he doesn't stray far enough from his bluegrass roots to do damage to the form. This is bluegrass, but squeezed through the soul of a youngster. You'll hear all his influences -- folk, rock, pop, funk -- but he's found a way to gather them up under the bluegrass mantle and produce something as pleasant as a long summer day."
"Lincoln Crockett first got attention on local stages in neo-grass favorites Cross-eyed Rosie, then began honing his solo chops. These days he also contributes mandolin to the Josh Cole Band and the quirky, charming Caravan Gogh. But tonight, Crockett releases his first solo full-length, Angels&Devils;Alike, perhaps the project closest to his heart. Case in point: Crockett’s delicate picking and angelic voice define gorgeous new songs like “Maybe Souls” and “Nothing Makes Me Feel Good.”"
"It takes a fair amount of charm, chops and chutzpa to hold our attention with a minimal musical palette, but mandolin wrangler Lincoln Crockett, from local bluegrass outfit Cross-eyed Rosie, manages to do so on his album Angels & Devils Alike (www.lincolncrockett.com). Armed with just a mandolin, an acoustic guitar and a supple voice, Crockett conducts us on a folksy tour of his mood swings, from glum (“Nothing Makes Me Feel Good”) to glad (“Feels So Good”), and for the most part it’s a bump-free and tuneful trip."
"Local "powergrass" outfit Cross-eyed Rosie's mandolin-man, Lincoln Crockett, steps into the spotlight with a new collection of solo recordings, leaving behind his folk compatriots' high-energy bluegrass compositions for quieter, introspective string pluckers about love, dogs and peace. Crockett's lazy-day vocal charm and simple guitar melodies remind one a bit of John Mayer--if Mayer spent time on a kibbutz with Devendra Banhart. Which, come to think of it, ain't that bad of an idea."
"Lincoln Crockett has a voice like wind in the hills. There's honesty, vulnerability, and an edge of loss in these modern bluegrass-tinged tunes. Excellent mandolin and guitar playing only highlight the spiritual edge of his singing."
"F***ing Awesome. His music has a fluid quality and beautiful ways of communicating chord progressions. And his voice - perfect control."
"Anyone who can sit with just a mandolin and make it believable is amazing. Anyone who can really hold our attention for more than ten seconds is truly amazing. We're really excited about Lincoln's music, it's got everything."
"He’s sh*t hot."
"I reviewed dozens of albums this weekend, and I have to say, of everything I listened to, Lincoln Crockett’s material was head and shoulders above the rest. His songwriting, his presentation, his indefinable presence, stood out in stark relief to all the others."
"One of the best musicians in Portland. I mean, I loved the cd but I had no idea he'd be so spot on live. Any time he wants me in his band I'm there."
"I’m about as bitter & jaded as possible when it comes to listening to new music. I’ve managed a large music venue in Detroit & played in several bands & tonight you guys were fantastic. You have a true knack for storytelling. That was a truly awesome show. The best new music we’ve had in here in a long time."
"Lincoln Crockett has in a few years done what all musicians desperately spend their lives trying to accomplish... that is creating a style and sound all there own. With his spine tingling vocals and blow your mind mandolin/guitar playing , Lincoln can create magic. Lincoln not only has created a distinct sound, but his music is so unique and wonderful, he may start a whole new genre. Some folks compare Lincoln to Chris Thile... but Lincoln is a far better singer and songwriter. Lincoln's music and performance can be better compared to, not a person, but an ocean... fluid, huge, awesome, beautiful, inspiring, and breathtaking."
"Lincoln Crockett, is an inciteful, honest writer who wears his heart on his musical sleeve. He's is not the overly-sensitive or painfully self-confessional sort, but rather a tuneful poet who can convey a heartfelt message with wit, integrity and a wink and a winning smile. He's also good picker and fine fellow."
"Lincoln is one of the most authentic and talented players I know. his songs are from the heart, thoughtful, poetic, and captivating. When he plays the room falls silent. His poetry is more than matched by his playing ability on the guitar or mandolin, or what instrument he chooses to play. He is a true storyteller of our time, a contemporary soul with roots in the ground. He takes us where we want to go. It is a great priviledge to have an opportunity to share a stage with the likes of Lincoln Crockett."
"It softly carried me to safe places within its sound, reminding me of the comfort that a voice can carry to ones heart."
Talia Lynn - Energy Healer, Teacher and Film Maker (May 30, 2006)