Words & Deeds

Deeds: You can take Jeff Crosby out of Idaho, but you can’t take Idaho out of Crosby

For a man without a home, Jeff Crosby sure sounds grounded.

When we last spoke, the singer-songwriter was explaining why he’d moved from Idaho to Los Angeles in 2011 to “wing it” with his backing band, The Refugees. They headlined in Canada. They toured with Jerry Joseph and the Jackmormons. Crosby’s songs were featured on the FX motorcycle-gang series “Sons of Anarchy.” He also accepted a job as guitarist for the Jackmormons, a unique pastime that includes talking politics with a grizzled, talented songwriter and inhaling secondhand Marlboro smoke in the back of a van.

But this week, Crosby, 28, found himself in Boise again.

“I just did two weeks with Jerry, two weeks with my own band, two weeks with Jerry,” he says. “And I just got done with that like two days ago.

“It’s kind of grueling,” he admits.

Six months ago, Crosby gave up his place in L.A. He’s now staying with his girlfriend in Boise.

On Friday, Dec. 11, he’ll headline album-release parties at the Record Exchange and Neurolux for his heartfelt new Americana album “Waking Days.”

The plan is to save up a few bucks in Boise — then move to Nashville in February.

“I’m just kind of winging it,” Crosby explains contentedly, using that familiar term again. “I’m writing more songs than I ever have. Just kind of writing songs. I don’t know what else to do.”

Maybe he’s doing what he was born to do. Gigging in Nashville last month, Crosby had an epiphany. After hooking up with a songwriters’ circle, he realized that he wanted to live there.

“I found it really inspiring just getting into a room of people that, literally, their main focus in life is writing songs — every day,” Crosby says. “It’s the first time I’ve ever sat and listened to 18 people and heard them sing their own songs and literally thought the next one was better than the last.”

Crosby’s personal journey to country-rock songwriter is intriguing to hear on the engaging “Waking Days.” It’s a sometimes mellow, pedal-steel-tinged album that he calls “the most honest batch of songs that I’ve been able to put out so far.”

Granted, Crosby’s evolution has been disillusioning for many fans of his former group, Equaleyes. Blond and bearded, he still looks like the same neo-hippie who unleashed long-winded electric-guitar psychedelia.

His jam-band detour was more than a teenage phase: “I still love that band,” he says.

But somewhere in his early 20s, Crosby just sort of changed. “I just found myself getting off more on songs,” he says, “and people taking that away from the show — walking away with the words and the lyrics in their head instead of just some brain-melting guitar solo.”

Essentially, Crosby has retapped his roots growing up in Donnelly. His first experience jamming with other musicians was when he was 15. He’d gather with older players at the local hat shop and play Steve Earle, Bob Dylan and Ray Wylie Hubbard tunes, he remembers.

“That honestly is where I come from,” he says.

As he’s moved toward Americana and country-rock in recent years, performances with Gem-State-raised bands Reckless Kelly and Micky and the Motorcars — and at their Braun Brothers Reunion Festival in Challis — have solidified his current direction.

“All of a sudden, I was like, this is it,” he says. “This is the Idaho I feel like is honest and something I want to be a part of. Music that I’m really into. There’s just something about the storytelling and just good songs, you know?”

And it makes him even more stoked to move to Nashville. Poking fun, I wonder whether Crosby can take the small-town-musician stereotype a little further. I mean, really: First move to L.A., then, of all places, Nashville?

“Same old story,” Crosby agrees with a cynical chuckle. “I don’t know why; I just find myself drawn to the discomfort, you know? I just like the idea of throwing myself into the shark tank.”

When that tank is a room full of 18 songwriters, it’s easy to understand why.

“That’s kind of what’s drawing me down there. We’ll see how long it lasts,” Crosby says.

“In the next year, we’ll do another one of these interviews, and I’ll have the dark side by then,” he adds finally, laughing. “Right now, I’m honeymooning with Nashville. It’s great.”

Michael Deeds: 208-377-6407, @michaeldeeds

In concert

▪  Jeff Crosby, acoustic: 6 p.m. Dec. 11, Record Exchange, 1105 W. Idaho St. Free.

▪  Jeff Crosby and The Refugees: 7 p.m. Dec. 11, Neurolux, 111 N. 11th St., Boise. $10. TicketWeb. $12 at the door.

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