The Motel Cowboy Show

On the Trail of Mountain Music, from Idaho to Texas, and the Side Roads In Between

The second book from Josh Crutchmer, author of Red Dirt

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“The coolest thing about our fan base is, we got them one at a time. I’m pretty proud of that. Once we got a fan, they stayed with us.”

Willy Braun, Reckless Kelly Front Man

“These artists, they’re all misfits. Their lives are so tied to music that they cannot even imagine doing anything else.”

Suzy Bogguss

“Being an Idaho band, it’s pretty damn cool to get to share the stage with bands and songwriters we’ve looked up to for years.”

Jeff Crosby

The Motel Cowboy Show is not a book — it’s a journey. From the Sawtooth Mountains of central Idaho, where phone service still may not reach, to the bustle of Austin, centerpiece of the Texas Music Scene, the influence of mountain roots music is real, lasting, and chronicled by Josh Crutchmer.  This highly-anticipated sequel to Red Dirt: Roots Music, Born in Oklahoma, Raised in Texas, At Home Anywhere ties mountain originals like Pinto Bennett to cowboy poets like Baxter Black and Chris LeDoux, and follows their trail down every highway and back road they chose. The rise, heyday and pending touring retirement of Reckless Kelly is covered extensively, bouyed by the humor and introspection of Willy and Cody Braun, their musical upbringing and the larger-than-life influence they forged wherever they made music. The book also puts you in the seats at the venerable Red Rocks Amphitheater for the 2022 comeback concerts by the Turnpike Troubadours, supported by Reckless Kelly and Shovels & Rope. You’ll also get the complete story of the Braun Brothers Reunion and its lasting impact on the community of Challis, and read about the determination of Micky and the Motorcars to carve their own legacy. The Motel Cowboy Show will inform as much as it entertains, and it will leave readers casting eyes toward the stages and studios of the American West.

Willy Braun, Micky Braun and Cody Canada at Braun Brothers Reunion in 2019.
The view of Braun Brothers Reunion in Challis, Idaho.

Josh CrutchmerAbout the Author

JOSH CRUTCHMER is the planning editor at The New York Times. Mr. Crutchmer is responsible for the organization of the daily newspaper as well as the look of the final edition of the Times’ Sunday front page — and he gets the occasional byline. Prior to joining The Times, he was the assistant managing editor of The Plain Dealer in Cleveland where, among other high-profile events, he oversaw coverage and production of the annual Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductions. Previously, he has worked at The Chicago Tribune, The Buffalo News, the Minneapolis Star Tribune, the Omaha World-Herald, The Arizona Republic and The Oklahoman.

DURING THE PROCESS of writing Red Dirt in 2020, Turnpike Troubadours front man Evan Felker told Crutchmer of his desire to return to performing and of finding sobriety since Turnpike’s 2019 hiatus. Felker’s interview was excerpted by Rolling Stone, causing a firestorm among Turnpike fans and leading to a series of articles Mr. Crutchmer wrote about the band, including their 2021 announcement of a return to the road and 2022 comeback concert at Cains’ Ballroom in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

HE HAS A LONG HISTORY in music journalism, even prior to writing Red Dirt. He was tapped to write obituaries for Merle Haggard and George Jones for The Plain Dealer and Nashville City Paper, respectively. He covered the rise to prominence of Cross Canadian Ragweed for The Oklahoman and the band’s final show in 2010 for an entertainment arm of The Chicago Tribune. More recently, he covered the final live performance of Robert Earl Keen for Rolling Stone and has been the primary journalist chronicling the announcement that Reckless Kelly intends to retire from touring in 2025.

MR. CRUTCHMER has had an award-winning journalism career that dates to 2000. He was the graphics and planning editor for At Day Care and in Deadly Peril, a 2013 Pulitzer Prize-winning series at The Minneapolis Star Tribune. He was also the project editor for nationally-recognized news series at The Buffalo News and The Plain Dealer. His work in Red Dirt has been previously honored by the Oklahoma Society of Professional Journalists, and his work on the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductions was routinely given top editing and design honors in the Society for News Design’s annual worldwide competition.

MR. CRUTCHMER is perhaps best-known for his viral Post Malone-Hootie Tweet in early 2021.

AT THE TIMES, He plays a crucial role in organizing and planning the Times’ daily and enterprise content, working with writers and editors across the organization to ensure subscribers have a robust newspaper in their hands each day. 

A NATIVE OKLAHOMAN and graduate of Oklahoma State University, Mr. Crutchmer has had a close involvement of the state’s Red Dirt Music scene since 2000. He has cultivated relationships with the modern standard-bearers of the scene as well as its forefathers. His intimate knowledge of Red Dirt extends not just to the artists but to the crew members, sound engineers, bar owners and tour managers behind the scenes whose efforts define what it means to live and work with a love of music.