Basic Folk 149 – Tré Burt

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When Tré Burt was signed to John Prine’s Oh Boy Records in 2019, he was one of only two artists—including label-mate Kelsey Waldon, to join the label in the past 15 years. The Sacramento-born singer/songwriter had released his debut album independently, catching the attention of Prine’s son Jody Whelan, who sent Tré a message on social media. Sadly, the message, which landed in one of those secret inboxes no one knows about, remained unread for a long time. When Tré finally found it and responded, it began a relationship with the label and allowed him into John Prine’s orbit. He only met the man once after John came backstage at one of his shows. The kindness and opportunity Prine imparted on Tré cannot be understated by the young musician. We talked about John’s impact and how he helped shape and reinforce Tré’s writing.

His style is very clear and straightforward: you can hear every word with his dustbowl vocals that gently command attention. He grew up with a very cool older brother, who influenced him heavily, as most big brothers do. As a young kid, his taste in music was eclectic and cool, but it all came to a halt when he discovered Woody Guthrie thanks to a school project. Formerly a fast picking guitarist (much like the busy and flowing style of The Tallest Man on Earth), his playing slowed down when his writing got more intense as that helped in getting people’s attention. We also discuss the range in his comfortability when it comes to speaking about the Black experience in folk music. This stemmed from his appearance on Adia Victoria’s excellent podcast Call and Response, which is a must listen. It’s an important moment where two Black people who create music in a white space talk about what that entails in finite detail. Listen below:

Tré is easy to talk to and we cover a lot: from his grandfather’s impact to an operator at T-Mobile recognizing his name from his music. One thing we didn’t mention, but I mentioned her in the Lightning Round is his pet bearded dragon, Yara. I thought he had a pic of her online, but I couldn’t find it. I swear she exists. Okay enjoy Tré!

Tré Burt’s latest is “You, Yeah You”

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