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The Crossroads on independent path to true country sound

Colt Buckelew sings during The Crossroads performance at the Burnet VFW Post fundraiser in August. The Crossroads consists of Buckelew, Nicole Buckelew (stage name Tiffany Valentine) and drummer Gene Howison as well as Gary D. Curl (not shown). The Crossroads performs classic country across the Highland Lakes. Courtesy photo

DANIEL CLIFTON • PICAYUNE EDITOR

BURNET — When Colt Buckelew left Nashville more than a decade ago and returned to the Burnet area, he set down his guitar for what he thought was the rest of his life.

“I was done, I thought,” Buckelew said. As a teenager, he saw his future in country music, but a stint in Nashville burned down those dreams.

Or, so he thought.

When his wife, Nicole Cooper Buckelew, who’s stage name is Nicole Valentine, found herself with a guitar as a gift for completing her associate’s degree, she turned to Buckelew for a few lessons.

“The original reason for taking up the guitar was I wanted something Colt and I could do as a couple,” she said. But as Colt started showing her the chords, the instrument almost came as second nature to her.

“She took to it like a bug to water,” Colt said.

As the couple began playing together, a little fire rekindled inside Colt. Those dreams Colt tossed aside years ago began to burn just a little bit. But this time, they weren’t Nashville dreams.

As Nicole began to achieve performance-quality guitar skills, the two decided to give music another shot. They formed a country band called The Crossroads and began playing at venues scattered across the Highland Lakes.

Along with Colt and Nicole, the band consists of drummer Gene Howison and lead guitarist Gary D. Curl.

While the band enjoys playing around the Highland Lakes, Colt and Nicole don’t look to the current Nashville scene as their aspirations.

“You just don’t hear real country music coming out of Nashville anymore,” Nicole said.

Colt, who has recording experience from his previous musical endeavors, agreed. His hope is The Crossroads gives listeners a dose of what he thinks country music should sound like.

“Our mission is to bring back country music,” Colt said. “I’m looking to go out and play music that people enjoy. We want to play music that somebody likes, not what somebody tells them to like.”

The Crossroads covers classic country from musicians such as Loretta Lynn and the late Jim Reed. While those selections might not be what’s currently coming out of Nashville, people still love that style. And it’s something they remind Colt and his bandmates of every time the group performs.

“People tell us they love what we’re doing and what we’re playing,” he said. “That classic country style, you just don’t find it much anymore, especially from what’s typically coming out of Nashville.”

Though Colt tasted some country music success years ago, he also knows bucking the current trend and establishing a musical career takes a lot of work and commitment.

“It’s miserable starting out,” he said. “Nothing but rocks and bumps along the way.”

Today’s technology, which allows bands to record, produce and promote their music with a laptop computer and some software, has opened doors and opportunities for bands such as The Crossroads that didn’t exist a decade ago. It’s something Colt and The Crossroads plan to take advantage of as they navigate around those bumps and rocks.

“We just think this is something important to do,” Nicole said, “giving people a taste of that true country music.”

Check out The Crossroads’ Facebook page for more information and performance locations and times.

daniel@thepicayune.com