Texas 'bandito country' band Crooks joins Calf Fry lineup

The emerging Austin six-piece outfit will perform for its first time at the long-running Stillwater festival, which plays Thursday through Saturday at the Tumbleweed Dance Hall.
by Brandy McDonnell Modified: April 23, 2013 at 4:08 pm •  Published: April 24, 2013
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Crooks happens to be a pretty apt name for a Texas band playing what they've dubbed “bandito country.”

“It's like outlaw country but you've got the Mexican flair in there,” explained multi-instrumentalist Sam Alberts in a recent telephone interview from his home in Austin.

“It's definitely not polished. It's kind of a little bit more raw.”

The roguish name also suits the attitude of the six-piece group, which might not steal something just to live up to it — but again, it just might.

“It doesn't mean we're not going to,” Alberts said cagily.

The emerging Texas country band wouldn't mind stealing the show when it plays one of the legendary after-parties at Stillwater's 22nd Annual Calf Fry at the Tumbleweed Dance Hall.

Crooks has developed a reputation in the past few years for putting on rowdy late-night shows that should help them fit in nicely with Josh Abbott, Randy Rogers, Casey Donahew and the other bands at this year's Calf Fry, Thursday through Saturday.

The “bandito country” band — Alberts, 28, who plays guitar, banjo, mandolin and trumpet in their live shows; Josh Mazour, 31, singer/songwriter/guitarist; Rob Bacak, 29, drummer; Joey McGill, 24, stand-up bass player; Doug Day, 32, trumpet player/guitarist/percussionist; and Anthony Ortiz Jr., 20, accordion player — crossed the Red River for the first time earlier this year.

They've played just two Sooner State shows — at Grady's 66 Pub in Yukon and the Mercury Lounge in Tulsa — but considered both successful.

“We'll play a little Merle Haggard there to get the Oklahoma crowd on our side and then launch into the set,” Alberts said. “We've been pretty well received. We've got a lot of followers from both of the shows that we played there.”

The band's sound has been steadily evolving since Mazour founded it as a stripped-down duo back in 2007, but Haggard has always been among their influences.

“Josh, he'll write most of the lyrics, and ... his heroes are like Townes Van Zandt and Billy Joe Shaver and Hank Williams Sr. You know, he tries to convey a certain level of just honesty through his lyrics, and when we're writing music around that, it kind of tends to fall in those same veins,” Alberts said.

“We've not really done a whole lot of planning of our sound. When Josh and I got together, it just kind of came out that way: He was writing some country songs; I was coming at it with a trumpet and a desire to kind of paint these large cinematic pictures. And our sound kind of came together for that.”



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