When roadhouse rocker Charlie Overbey sat down to discuss his first solo album with Grammy-winning British producer Ted Hutt last year, he was proud of the cowpunk tunes he brought to the table, similar to the music he made with his old outfit Custom Made Scare. But Hutt blindsided him with tough love, refusing to work on that material. He wanted Overbey to cut the quieter, more pensive originals he had heard him idly strum offstage. “Ted told me that this was the album I needed to make — the quiet, campfire-comforting singalongs that I’d written just for myself,” he says. The tunes ended up on “Broken Arrow,” which includes “Outlaws” (featuring alt-country’s Mastersons) and “Slip Away,” his Lee Hazlewood-Nancy Sinatra reminiscent duet with longtime chum Miranda Lee Richards, who’s touring with him. It’s a compelling collaboration that surprised, and delighted, both parties.
Your website’s bio mentions a year you did in prison in the late 1990s — an odd thing to include in your press kit.
Well, I think you’ve got to experience everything to be able to write songs. But yeah, I got into a bit of trouble when I was younger, although I don’t talk much about it. But it was good for me, I think. I spent a year in a federal penitentiary out in the Mojave desert, and I met a lot of nice guys out there.
But you have this amazing side career as a haberdasher, with your company Lone Hawk Hats, which kind of resemble Billy Jack’s.
I loved Billy Jack as a kid! What a badass. But I remember that even back in the Sunset Strip/rock and roll era, you could never, ever get a really great bitchin’ hat. So I just started doing some hats myself, reshaping and dressing and glamming the up, way back in ’90, ’91. I just always was a hat guy. I always wore ‘em. But suddenly a few years back, the business really took off, and I was six to eight months deep in back orders, and I was making a lot of hats for a lot of people, like the E Street Band, Barry Gibb, Sheryl Crow, Blackberry Smoke. I use old vintage shells from the 1800s up to 1974, and I make everything by hand.
They run a few hundred apiece, right?
Yes. And my better half is my partner in Honeywood Vintage, where Lone Hawk started, so now we both have shops. And she does all the custom embroidery on the hats, and I can make about five a week. The most one has sold for was $1,500 or so. Maybe when I’m dead they’ll get a little more expensive….
IF YOU GO
Charlie Overbey & The Broken Arrows, Miranda Lee Richards
Where: Chapel, 777 Valencia St., S.F.
When: 8 p.m. Wednesday
Tickets: $15 to $18
Contact: (415) 551-5157, www.eventbrite.com