Bart Crow and the rest of the red-dirt ramblers in his band seem to realize that one of the most direct paths to musical success within the genre lies along the well-worn road known as Interstate 35. Or perhaps to put it another way, as the Crow flies.
"Right now, I'm learning how to make better use of my time and be a little bit more structured with it, instead of trying to go-go-go all of the time," said Crow, titular frontman for the Austin, Texas-based Bart Crow Band. "I'm learning to just enjoy the ride that we are on and still stay obsessed with the music."
Since releasing a first album, "Finally," three years ago, there have been plenty of reasons for Crow and the band to feel as though their lives have suddenly shifted into the fast lane. Still, the singer is able to think back to his formative days of growing up in Maypearl, Texas " a 750-person town that gave Crow little reason to think a hectic music career was on the horizon.
"I toyed with the guitar a little bit when I was in high school, but just enough to be annoying," he said. "But I really started playing and getting into it when I was in the service out in Georgia. That is when I kind of caught the bug and never wanted to put the guitar down again."
A veteran, Crow played around with the guitar while serving a brief stint with the Army. When his enlistment ended five years ago, he attended Tarleton State University, where his interest in a post-college music career deepened.
"I was writing a lot when I was going to college in Stephenville (Texas). I just had this plethora of things I wanted to get out," he said.
Two years after graduating in 2004, Crow and his band recorded and released the appropriately titled "Finally." Fueled in part by the success of "Wear My Ring," a single that rested in the Texas Music Chart's Top 15 for more than 20 consecutive weeks, the Bart Crow Band realized that recording a follow-up was inevitable.
"Honestly, it was scary as hell, man " it's that dreaded old sophomore slump ... we definitely didn't want to get caught in that," Crow said, with a laugh. "We wanted to make the best record that we could about where we were musically, spiritually, relationship-wise, friendship-wise and band-wise. We put a lot of stuff riding on this album, because we knew our fans were looking for us to deliver and we felt we personally had a lot riding on it."
After squeezing time into its packed tour schedule, the Bart Crow Band completed the album in eight months and released it earlier this year.
"'Desperate Hearts' is just a compilation of songs I had written over the past three years while we had our first record out," Crow said. "We just didn't have the time to stay in the studio for very long."
Don't be misled by the saccharine title: "Desperate Hearts" is a 13-song compilation that is arguably a stronger and more accomplished effort than "Finally," bringing to the table a little for rockers and country fans to enjoy. The first single, "Understand," is a drive down a Texas music highway that splits rural plains and rocky terrain. The song has managed to drive itself up the Best in Texas Music magazine chart.
With 180 tour stops last year and plans to perform even more this year, the Bart Crow Band returns to Bricktown for a 10 p.m. Saturday show at the Wormy Dog Saloon.
"The crowds at the Wormy Dog have been amazing " rambunctious, nuts and fun good-timin'," Crow said. "Any band that plays, knows it's those audiences that really get into a show. They drive us on to play 20 songs instead of 18, and play for two hours instead of 90 minutes." " Lucas Ross