Deborah Crooks: The Department of the West



This episode of Big Blend Radio’s Champagne Sundays Show features California singer-songwriter Deborah Crooks who discusses her new album “The Department of the West.” Listen or download the podcast on,,,

California songwriter Deborah Crooks announces the release of her fourth full-length album “The Department of the West.” A follow-up to her 2016 EP “Beauty Everywhere” and her work with the band Bay Station, who released “Other Desert Cities” in 2018, Crooks continues to explore themes of natural history (“River Stones”), family (“All Signs”), and the #metoo movement (“Long Roads”), while also addressing the nature of land ownership and Native American history (“Department of the West” “What the Land Will Tell You”) and relationships (“Let the River do the Running”).

Crooks co-produced “The Department of the West” with Danny Allen (Baby Buck Studio, High Diving Horses) and recorded at John Vanderslice’s Tiny Telephone Studio in San Francisco. Allen also played guitars, ukulele, and banjo on the album, and was joined by Mike Stevens (The Uptones, Sun Kil Moon) on drums and percussion, Kevin T. White (Chuck Prophet, Shelby Lynne) on bass. Longtime collaborator Kwame Copeland (Bay Station, Straw Coyotes) as well as Heather Davison (Loretta Lynch), Maurice Tani and Maryam Qudus also contributed backing vocals. The recording was mixed and engineered by Qudus (Tune-Yards, Kronos Quartet) and mastered by Piper Payne (Infrasonic Sound).

After flirting with becoming a field biologist and embarking on a career as a journalist, Crooks began writing and performing her songs in the early 2000s. She’s collaborated with Copeland in the band Bay Station, releasing three records with the band, as well as co-founding Bay Station’s Love the Bay Music and Sailing video series.  A native Californian, whose parents were both born and raised in San Francisco, personal and natural history have long informed her writing.

Says Crooks of her new collection: “I wanted to write a love letter to the places that have shaped me, while atoning, as much as one can do through art, for the inherited debts I feel to the land and its native inhabitants.”


National Parks Arts Foundation One Hour Walk

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