Fred Crabtree is a pure American storyteller with the heart of a poet and a rowdy honky-tonk soul
At six foot three, Crabtree naturally maintains a birds-eye view of others, even when he’s not on the stage, but his demeanor is anything but distant. He always wears an infectious smile and a contraption resembling homemade orthodontic headgear that allows his hands and mouth individual freedom to perform a mind-blowing test of musical coordination. While his mouth pulls the blues, jazz, bluegrass from a harmonica, his vintage Martin guitar has mastered just about any rock song you can dig out of the last three decades. However, the most original and heart-stopping music begins when Crabtree’s breaks into his own songs.
Crabtree explained he has been playing county fairs, barnyards, backcountry saloons and campfires since he was a child, but as a full-time rancher and horseman, he’s never much been interested in the siren call of the professional music machine. Born in West Virginia, he had a peripatetic upbringing, attending more than 17 schools before he graduated. He eventually settled in Idaho, on a 240 acre ranch in one of the remotest valleys of the Posmeroi, because “it felt like home, still smelled like the wild west and there is always plenty of quiet to fill up with music.” He lives there still, in a house he built himself, powered only by the Idaho sun and wind.
The inconstancy of his itinerate upbringing and the harsh wisdom of ranch life have uniquely informed his songwriting. Life and human relations are tragically unpredictable his harmonica and guitar seem to wail together beautifully. And this is what makes Crabtree an authentic American storyteller and an extraordinary talent. With the heart of a poet and his rowdy, honky-tonk soul, you can almost hear the washboards, fiddles and spoons echoing in your bones, without losing respect for the modern art of his preferred instrument. His style is vintage hobo. While his lyrics dust off your heart with the truth, his harmonica/guitar instrumentals are a rustic romp with contemporary polish—similar, but not the same, as the famed, eclectic style of mandolin master, David Grisman. When you hear it, you know, there is nothing like Fred Crabtree.