Dean Crawford and the Dunn’s River Band will be bringing some old-time, boot stomping, swaying country music to the main stage Sunday at Essex Day.
For Crawford, a Reisterstown resident by way of Jamaica, playing in eastern Baltimore County is like playing in his own backyard.
His band is set to hit the stage at 3 p.m. at Essex Day, which runs from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
“When I’m playing a show, I always tell the fans how much I love eastern Baltimore County,” Crawford said. “The people are so kind, and the fans are so caring.
"The joke is that as I’m saying how much I love this area, I qualify it by saying, ‘I know it sounds like it, but I’m not running for sheriff or anything.' ”
Then he laughed and said: “If I were to run for sheriff, I’d have a good shot in eastern Baltimore County.”
In fact, before the band ever had a formal gig, the members were making music in Essex.
“Kenny Wise [one of the founding band members] was a member of the Odd Fellows Hall in Essex, so we practiced there,” Crawford said.
Later, the band entertained fans at in Middle River. Fans who were around during that time might recognize references to Rock-a-Billy’s and its patrons on the CD “Red Blooded American Boy.”
Crawford writes daily on Facebook, sometimes a thought for the day, sometimes to update fans on play dates and other times to share fan photos.
Recently, he wrote that he expects his eastern Baltimore County fans to come out in force for his headline performance on Sunday.
When the band sets up for Essex Day, expect to hear favorites from “Red Blooded American Boy” as well as from the band's latest CD, “Who I Am.”
When Crawford began accumulating songs for the “Who I Am” CD, he said he was going through a difficult time.
His mother, Adre, had been diagnosed with cancer and he said he spent many nights singing to her before her death in 2008. As a result, the CD took a different turn, with two songs dedicated to his parents, as well as other tunes addressing the concept: Who I Am.
The songs that made it onto that CD exemplify why fans identify with the performer.
Brooke Lawrence, Crawford’s booking agent and the wife of the band’s drummer, Bobby Lawrence, believes the relationship between fan and artist runs deeper than the words and music he offers.
“When Dean comes off the stage, he’ll walk up to people in the audience, and he’ll ask about their family — very specific questions about their wives and kids. He remembers things about them and lets them know they’re important to him,” Lawrence said.