Clay McClinton’s musical roots are firmly planted in the Texas tradition he was born into, where the strains of country, blues, rock and roll, and Tex-Mex all blend effortlessly into a sound some call “Texas Gumbo”. With four solo CDs under his belt, and 10 years of constant touring, Clay has honed a songwriting style that succeeds in being both deeply personal yet universal, and his soul-driven delivery, and genuine presence generates new fans at every show. It’s clear the formative years spent on his father Delbert’s tour bus left their mark—the occasional vocal inflection, or chord change will point back to his dad’s influence, but the many miles under Clay’s own tires have shaped a distinctly individual voice and style.
Clay’s fourth CD, Bitin’ at the Bit (2013) is his most ambitious project to date, and marks his first time working with Grammy award winning producer Gary Nicholson. As a long-time family friend, Nicholson was in a unique position to guide the creation of this CD—his experience, mastery, and vision combined with the familiarity that comes from knowing the artist for decades gives the album a personal quality that distinguishes it from the bins full of interchangeable singer/songwriter efforts. Co-writing with Nicholson, his father, Nashville hit maker and top studio drummer Tom Hambridge, and Austin-based performer George Ensle, Clay has assembled a collection of tunes that showcase his range as an artist and writer, but this time, with a deliberate focus on the country side of things. “Country has always been a big part of my music, but I guess since I’ve moved back home to Texas, and living out in Hill Country, it’s more upfront now” Clay tells us.
The disc opens with “Wildflowers”, a hard-driving tribute to two well-loved Texas features—seasonal wildflowers and beautiful women, while “The Sound Of A Small Town” gently reminds us of the fading simplicity of small town life. The blues/rock shuffle “Nobody Knows My Baby” is a love song with an upbeat groove, and catchy sing-a-long hook. On the country side of things, “Hydrated” is a romping two-stepper that extols the benefits of a well-balanced fluid intake, while “Victim Of Life’s Circumstances” is a re-working of the title track from Delbert McClinton’s 1975 debut album for ABC. “Stories We Could Tell” is a revved up rocker that laughs at the misfortunes of life on the road. The contemplative “Bound For Glory” is a heartfelt tribute to the great Woody Guthrie, and the emotional, and dynamic performance is a journey unto itself. In the form of a classic country waltz, “A Woman That Can’t Be Explained” plaintively explores the quixotic realm of the feminine psyche. Stretching out a bit as an artist, Clay included a few inspired covers on this CD, one of them the bluegrass classic “Poison Love”. Taking a cue from the Doug Sahm version, the track gets the full Tex-Mex treatment with an appearance by Grammy-winning accordionist Joel Guzman. “What A Little Bit Of Love Can Do” was co-written by Nicholson and legendary Austin songsmith Stephen Bruton. Originally sung by Jeff Bridges in the film Crazy Heart, Clay redefines the tune with a San Antone-like feel and a heart-felt performance. Though not intentional, another “Big Lebowski connection” on the CD is Clay’s cover of the 60s hit “Just Dropped In To See What Condition My Condition Was In”. A mainstay of McClinton’s live show, the tune received a total makeover in the studio, adding several elements from the groovy Kenny Rogers & The First Edition arrangement. In addition to Guzman, Bitin’ at the Bit also features instrumental contributions from some of Nashville’s top players including guitar wizards Kenny Vaughan, Dan Dugmore, and Colin Linden, percussion powerhouses Lynn Williams, and Tom Hambridge, bassist Steve Mackay, as well as the work of regular touring band members Jon Sanchez on guitar and Ed Friedland on bass.
Behind the recording of Bitin’ at the Bit lies a true modern-day success story. As an independent artist, McClinton needed to raise the funds on his own, and the plan to step up the level of production for his fourth CD meant higher costs than his previous records. Clay took a chance and put together an online Kickstarter campaign where fans could donate to the project, and within the span of a month and a half, they surpassed the goal for the project. While still a modest sum compared to major label budgets, it represents a healthy chunk of change for an independent artist. As a result, Bitin’ at the Bit represents a new level of production value for McClinton, and everything from the sound of the record to the top-notch performances is living proof that the money was well spent.
With a rocking 5-piece band featuring some of Austin’s top players and a brand new CD out, McClinton has been taking the stage at festivals, concert halls and clubs from Colorado to Finland, playing with fire and honesty, leaving no doubt that he’s got his own thing going on.
Clay McClinton: vocals, guitar, harmonica
Debut CD: Out of the Blue
2nd CD: Son of a Gun
3rd CD: Livin' Out Loud
4th CD: Bitin' at the Bit - to be released Feb. 2014
Three Chords and The Truth
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October 24, 2013 In a week dominated by cover bands, I found one very bright spot in the live mus...October 24, 2013
In a week dominated by cover bands, I found one very bright spot in the live music line-up this weekend and his name is Clay McClinton (Austin, TX). McClinton, the son of Texas roadhouse legend Delbert McClinton, played The Back Porch in Port Aransas last Saturday Night. I had spend the weekend running the gamut between the Porch, Shorty’s and Giggity’s listening to Cathouse, Red Giant, Jerry Diaz and Ruben Limas who put on good shows, but shows dominated by set after set of cover songs. And these guys represent a pretty large array of genres from hard rock and soft metal, to 80’s and 90’s mainstream rock, to folk, country, pop and even pop rock. That’s not necessarily a bad thing but it is what it is…songs that sound familiar no matter who is playing them. These bands all played crowd pleasers and everyone seemed to enjoy themselves but when I rolled up on Clay McClinton, it became obvious how much difference original songs can make. I was immediately absorbed. I admit to being a little prejudiced when it comes to Clay, I grew up listening to his dad and have seen Delbert perform dozens of times. Delbert’s definitely in my Hall of Fame, so it follows I’d be partial to his son. All that said, I’d rather see someone do good covers than bad originals.
Clay has just released his fourth CD, Bitin’ at the Bit, which was produced by Grammy award winning producer Gary Nicholson, an old family friend and faithful guitar sideman to Delbert for many years. The songs have a definite country/roadhouse feel and the only songs he covered by other writers were those of Nicholson, Delbert and Stephen Bruton plus one old one by Kenny Rogers and the First Edition (What Condition My Condition Was In). McClinton’s material maintains the roadhouse traditions of incorporating country, blues, Tex-Mex and rock shuffles, and his band of road warriors played each one with passion and perfection. The show was a perfect example of a professional road band doing their job well. I know cover bands are an important part of the entertainment formula, but when the real deal stares you in the eye, stand up and take note. Some day cover bands will be playing Clay McClinton songs.
Cruising the Americana Way
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NASHVILLE MUSIC GUIDE Publicizing Singers, Writers & Musicians to Music Row & Beyond Since ...NASHVILLE MUSIC GUIDE
Publicizing Singers, Writers & Musicians to Music Row & Beyond Since 1995
September 2012 / Volume 17 / Issue 176
Cruising the Americana Way
I believe Clay McClinton expresses the true Americana way. An exact mixture of blues, folk, bluegrass, and country, his music pulls you in. Just as people will see a photo and take away with them different views on what they saw, the same is true for Clay’s music. They might hear rockabilly; some will describe him as a mix of folk and rockabilly, and some will say he’s traditional country. In truth Clay is a little of all those and more. Clay’s current album is “Living Out Loud” and his also working on another due out in early 2013.
Knowing that his Dad has been a big influence I wondered who else might have inspired him to make music his career and why? Clay said, “Willie Nelson was always a big inspiration to me because I was a round him a lot from a young age. My Dad did a lot of shows with Willie. All the great Texas songwriters like Rodney Crowell, Guy Clark. They played a big part in my decisions to make music my life’s work.” He said that if he hadn’t decided on music he would have been a carpenter.
Clay’s touring around the country visiting towns and cities in Colorado, New York and Washington DC and will be in Nashville TN at 3rd & Lindsley on August 26, 2012. Clay will also tour Europe this year doing a Norway Cruise for two days in Oslo and will also be appearing with a long line of entertainers on the Delbert McClinton Sandy Beaches Cruise in January 2013.
I asked Clay what was the first song he ever sang in public, where it was and how old he was. He said, “Well, it was in Chicago, New Years Eve, around 1988 or 89, I was 14 years old and I think the song was “Standing on Shaky Ground.”
Fans around the world are always asking for autographs and I asked Clay if he could remember what the craziest thing was that he had ever autographed? He said, “Well, I have autographed a lot stuff…I think maybe boots, golf clubs, and a key, autographing the key was odd.”
I asked Clay what he would say had been the most memorable show/tour so fat in his career and what happened that make it stand out above all the rest? Clay said, “A memorable moment was when I opened up for Taj Mahal during 9/11 when our country was attacked. It was very emotional. The show was supposes to be canceled but he (Taj Mahal) said no way. It was a very spirited and an extremely emotional moment. He said he wasn’t going to let any terrorist stop us from sharing happiness and not enjoy life. I’ll never forger it.”
Clay said his ideas for his music are about real things that people can relate to and some are related to him. It just depends on the mood. He said he’s always looking for new ways to gain inspiration for song writing.
For more information on Clay, his tour, and his music please visit www.claymcclinton.com.
Story by Sherryl Craig
Clay McClinton: CD Review
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Quietly lurking in the shadows of the Texas music scene, the humble yet immensely talented Clay McCl...Quietly lurking in the shadows of the Texas music scene, the humble yet immensely talented Clay McClinton hits a home run with his newest release, “Livin’ Out Loud.” Methodically planning his own musical destination since he was a teenager Clay keeps a mental notebook full of tips from his dad and has used them wisely in conjunction with his genetic inheritance. He’s a natural born songwriter and his personable, distinctive voice bears intriguing warmth. In fact, there is warmth to this entire CD, a sign of someone who is comfortable with himself, combined with a natural ability for turning autobiographical stories into songs with appealing hooks and melodies.
While he rarely mentions his heritage on stage, Clay is a part of an elite group of offspring who have well-known musical fathers or mothers. The parents deserve immense credit for raising sons and daughters with character, but credit the kids themselves for having the guts to make their own sound.
New from Clay McClinton - Livin' Out Loud
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Clay McClinton's Livin' Out Loud is a Country record that takes on the soul of folk, cool beats of j...Clay McClinton's Livin' Out Loud is a Country record that takes on the soul of folk, cool beats of jazz and the heart of the blues. "Driftin' Away With You" allows listeners to do just that. They will drift away on the smooth, laid back beats of this track while "Gone to Mexico" will get them on the dance floor with the Spanish flavor heard throughout. The array of styles heard on Livin' Out Loud is just the thing needed for eclectic music fans. No one likes to hear the same note on repeat and Clay McClinton takes that into account and gives true music fans a buffet of sounds that fans of everyone from Alan Jackson to Terry Garland will love.
Track 1: "Whole Lotta Work" kicks off the record with a whole lotta energy. It's a lively tune that will keep bodies moving and grooving from beginning to end. It's one of those songs that can instantly change a bad mood into one that's all smiles. Clay claims, "It's a whole lotta work to have a little fun," but all one would need to have is this tune to get the fun started.
Track 6: "The One You Loved" is heartfelt and all about heartbreak. Showing that he has many sides to who he is, Clay opens up with this one and lets the emotions spill out. The hurt transforming into musical ecstasy with every note delivered by Clay. His and Jonell Mosser's voices blend ceaselessly together, representing the heartbreak felt on each side.
Track 10: "Trouble is Easy to Find" showcases the Blues Clay adds to his Country charm. This one takes the beat down a notch but cranks up to "cool cat" meter for the Jazz factor. It's as if Clay took a break and headed straight for the Harlem Renaissance to head up the latest night club with the likes of Ella Fitzgerald and Cecil Scott.
Reviewed by Kendra Beltran of Bryan Farrish Radio Promotions
CD Review: Clay McClinton, Livin' Out Loud
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Clay McClinton has been doing a great job carrying on a family tradition of great blues and country ...Clay McClinton has been doing a great job carrying on a family tradition of great blues and country music. The eleven tracks on this CD all reflect the best in Texas roadhouse music and Clay wrote or co-wrote ten of them. Its hard to say he is riding on Dad Delbert’s coattailds when Delvert only penned one of the tunes, “Gone To Mexico”.
Co-producer on many of the songs, Kevin McKendree, also lends his hand with a variety of instruments including piano, lead guitar and a variety of organs. The whole team is from the Nashville/Austin A-list and other great players such as James Pennebaker on fiddle and pedal steel, Steve Mackey on bass and holding down the rhythmic fort on drums is Kenneth Blevins.
Clay has been playing all over Texas in support of the release and you can find him performing from Austin to Houston, from Waring to Bandera so get out and see what great talent and a bit of genetic help can do to produce this Texas up-and-comer. The CD gets 4 stars out of five!
-Review by Greg Forest
For McClinton, Evergreen encore is special
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By Brian Muir March 22, 2006 Clay McClinton lives like Johnny Cash sang: "I've Been Everywh...By Brian Muir
March 22, 2006
Clay McClinton lives like Johnny Cash sang: "I've Been Everywhere". And while the entertaining son of Grammy winner Delbert McClinton has called several places home, he refers to Evergreen with a singular exclamation, "What a cool town!" he hollers, recalling his Little Bear debut late last September. Clay and his band return for an encore this weekend with four Little Bear shows opening at 8 p.m. Thursday and continuing at 9 p.m. Friday and Saturday, before bowing out at 2 p.m. Sunday.
Growing up in Fort Worth, Texas, McClinton caught the travel bug more than 10 years ago with extended excursions to Austin, Texas, Europe, Flagstaff, Ariz., and now Nashville. "It's been a very progressive two years in Nashville," he says. "We're busier and busier, and the phone keeps ringing. We've got a European tour in the works for September, then Canada in October. Traveling allows you to really smell the culture and know the people.” McClinton also saved some choice words for the legendary Bear, a place his dad had recommended from past experience. "The place has a great vibe with everyone dancing," he remembers. "As my dad said, 'It's a great place to sweat.' I love it."
Clay knows he's been blessed, and while expectations can be high for second-generation performers, he's attracted to the challenge. "Being raised with people like my dad and Willie Nelson, there aren't any categories for our music," he says. "We're in charge of all the good stuff that falls through the cracks. I'm working on another album due out later this year, and there are a few songs co-written with my dad."
His 2003 debut "Out of the Blue" included two collaborations with Delbert. Like his father, Clay is in constant music motion, especially upstairs as a songwriter. "There's always a song going on in my head," he says, "and I carry around a pocket voice recorder to keep track of my ideas. Usually there's a melody in my head first, then I'll come up with the words."
Rising Son, Clay McClinton, plays The Handlebar
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By James Shannon February 21, 2006 ...By James Shannon
February 21, 2006
When Clay McClinton's CD came across my desk, I knew I'd give it a listen if for no other reason than curiosity because his father Delbert McClinton has been a personal favorite for too many years to count. Being the son or daughter of a famous artist has one clear advantage, it can get you in the door. After that, it's up to the individual to rise or fall on his or her own artistic merits.
Maybe it helps that Clay's, Out of the Blue, is not a collection of techno-pop or light jazz or New Age melodies, but I can't get the damn thing out of my CD player. This blend of honky tonk, Delta blues and soulful rock will not be unfamiliar to fans of the roadhouse genre of music of which Delbert McClinton is a strong proponent, but it goes deeper than that. The songwriting stands out as well, making it easy to see Clay's stated influences of Willie Nelson, Tom Waits, Bob Dylan, J. J. Cale, and John Hiatt. But this is not some prettified studio creation, with every pore of the recording dripping with long nights on stage at various beer-drinking establishments, so much so you can almost hear the clinking of glasses. Almost.
Clay McClinton grew up in Fort Worth, Texas, learning to play guitar and harmonica from both his father and older brother, Monty. After playing in bands during his high school years, he took the plunge as a professional musician. While Delbert was always a respected music industry pro, he never enjoyed the huge financial success that would bring the exorbitant mansion-and-limo lifestyle but it beats chopping cotton or working at Sears. "I always thought, growing up around Dad, that playing music was the coolest thing," he says. "I never really thought about doing anything else. At the same time, I don't have to be in the spotlight to enjoy the creativity of music. If someone likes what I'm writing and wants to take it and record it their way, well, I've never understood why anybody wouldn't want that. I look forward to producing other artists as well."
The next stop on his career path took Clay to the unlikely outpost of Flagstaff, Arizona, where he played with The Blues Project, a Texas stomp and southern blues outfit, and an acoustic blues/ bluegrass/folk band called Second Harvest. Those influences still run strong through his music, and hundreds of hours on stage didn't hurt either. A couple of years ago, Clay moved to Nashville to take his career to the next level. No longer a kid at 29, he was ready to hone his writing and production skills. The results are on display in Out of the Blue. Delbert's on the record as a co-writer on a song or two, and you'll have a chance to say hey to him on Friday, March 31 when he rolls into the Spartanburg Memorial Auditorium.
But Delbert's boy is the real deal. Check out the Clay McClinton Band when they play The Handlebar in Greenville on Friday, March 3 with special guests Moxie's Moonlight Drive. The show starts at 9 pm.
Music legend's son sings the blues in Thomasville
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By Lee Adams January 28, 2006 On a Friday night at Connelly's bar in downtown Thomasville, ...By Lee Adams
January 28, 2006
On a Friday night at Connelly's bar in downtown Thomasville, NC a crowd gathers to hear Clay McClinton and his band pump out two hours of high-energy Texas contemporary roots rock and blues. Connelly's patrons and fans of McClinton, Curtis and Cinde Ingram helped get the band to town. The Ingram's had been on a cruise put on by Delbert, and there they met Clay.
On the cool, breezy, abandoned sidewalk outside the club the black silence of the night is deafening. But walking inside the warm brick interior painted with neon lights and colored par cans and sitting down to watch McClinton play is like stumbling across a hidden treasure that rewarded those lucky enough to find it.
Clay McClinton is the 31-year-old son of the legendary Delbert McClinton, the Nashville musician who recently had two Grammy nominations for his latest Cost of Living CD.
The young Clay admits that following in his father's footsteps has been tough, with high expectations from Delbert's fans. But it's been even more rewarding and he's thankful for the opportunity. He admires his father both as a fan and an artist.
"I'm a big fan of my dad's," Clay says.
Growing up in Ft. Worth, Texas and around his father's music, Clay began playing guitar himself around age 12 and started taking it more seriously just a few years later. At 19 he began playing the Austin music scene and later went to Europe for four months of writing and traveling. After returning to the states Clay moved to Flagstaff, Ariz., a small American city where he believed he could make his mark. And he did.
There he started the Clay McClinton Band playing blues and bluegrass, making a name for himself and improving upon his musical skills. But at age 29 Clay felt it was time for another move and left Flagstaff for the place where all great country and blues musicians eventually find themselves, Nashville, Tenn. His father had made the move 15 years earlier, and there the two would find themselves bonding as father and son again, and playing and writing together from time to time. Then just last year Clay played guitar with his father on his cruise.
Clay started another band in Nashville about a year ago with bassist Jeff Beam, drummer Jim Evans and pianist Andrew Bett. This year Clay is taking his own band on the cruise and playing his own music along with his father.
Clay has become well respected in Nashville in his own right and there's a healthy buzz about the band. Still, Clay insists Nashville is filled with so many great musicians that being there is like being another brick in the wall.
Tonight though, he's more than just a brick. Tonight is the chance to meet the son of a legend and the chance to get the autograph of another soon-to-be legend. Tonight's stop in Thomasville is one of those rare opportunities where Connelly's guests get to interact with the musicians on a personal level. This gig is one of many for McClinton and his band, some of which will be played before hundreds of guests.
Tonight the atmosphere is intimate and personal. Curtis and Cinde Ingram dance in front of the stage where Clay stands sliding his worn boots back and forth to the rhythm of his guitar. His head back and eyes closed, he belts out an upbeat blues song in a Texas drawl that has a hint of Bob Dylan. Other patrons bob their heads and lift long necks into the air in approval. Another guest, Stephanie Arnold, obtains a large pink bra that is hidden behind the bar and throws it onstage. Bassist Jeff Beam laughs and nods at Clay who, without missing a beat, picks up the bra with the point of his boot and kicks it toward pianist Andrew Bett. But it misses Bett, flying over his head and landing behind him, he is so intent on the music that he never notices the whole drama playing out in front of him.
The band plays through several of Clay's own songs and mixes up the set with a Bob Dylan tune, a Sam Bush number, one by JJ Cale and a rocker called Eat My Dust. Tomorrow it's back to Nashville where Clay spends his time writing new music with other Nashville musicians, and next week it's back on the road again for him and the band. For Clay there is no other career. Like his father, he's always seen himself playing music and doing nothing else. The guitar he wears looks as natural on him as the shirt on his back, and the smile he wears is evidence of things being the only way they should.
Son of a gun
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January 27, 2006 Like daddy, like son. Texas native Clay Mc... January 27, 2006
Like daddy, like son. Texas native Clay McClinton grew up hearing his father, blues legend Delbert McClinton, make music. In fact, Delbert was Clay's first and most influential teacher. The home-schoolin' in harmonica and guitar set the stage for the younger McClinton to graduate to the next level in the music mecca of Austin, where Clay soaked up influences and atmosphere. A jaunt across Europe and a move to Arizona gave McClinton plenty of material and maturity. He honed his chops playing in two bands - a rootsy acoustic unit and an electric blues posse - before making the big move to Nashville to polish his songwriting skills. Now McClinton fronts a red-hot band of his own and has concocted his own blazing brand of blues, one that mixes Texas honky tonk with raw Delta blues, a drizzle of jazz, raucous Southern rock and twangy country. Push back the tables and get ready to boogie when the Clay McClinton Band makes its first local appearance at 9:30 tonight at Bradfordville Blues Club on Moses Lane off Bradfordville Road.
Dragon's Concert is McClinton family affair
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By Ron Wynn May 11, 2005 Famed vocalist, bandleader and harmonica soloist Delbert Mc...By Ron Wynn
May 11, 2005
Famed vocalist, bandleader and harmonica soloist Delbert McClinton said he neither encouraged nor discouraged his son Clay from pursuing a musical career. But now Clay McClinton is developing his own reputation on the Americana circuit as a singer/songwriter and recently issued his first CD Out of the Blue.
He'll be joining his famous father tonight for a performance at the eighth annual Dragon's Concert for the Nashville Children's Theatre (NCT). Both McClintons will appear with their own bands and be joined by special surprise guests during the event that helps NCT provide free and reduced-price tickets for schools with students that need financial support to attend theater events. "I got involved with Nashville Children's Theatre a long time ago because I saw it as a way of giving something back to the community, and I also really appreciated the things that they do for children," Delbert McClinton said. "The first time seemed like a good idea, and this event has kind of taken on a life of its own in the last few years. Now things have worked out so that both my band and Clay's can perform on the show." ? "I'm definitely looking forward to this concert," Clay McClinton added. "It's a perfect opportunity and a real pleasure to be working on the same event with my father, who has been extremely supportive of my career and a real inspiration." Although this event marks the first time that Delbert and Clay will share a stage, the two have already collaborated on two songs featured on the release Out of the Blue. "We'll be doing some more things together down the line," Delbert said. ? Clay McClinton has an interesting take on his new CD. "[It's] all the good stuff that falls in the cracks, kind of a similar way to a lot of my Dad's music," he said. "There's a little jazz influence, some contemporary blues, Americana. I've been working on my own writing and singing style, while also learning a lot from my father." Out of the Blue is currently available online at ClayMcClinton.com.
Delbert McClinton's newest release Cost of Living will be released in August on the New West label. "My daughter has been involved with Nashville Children's Theatre for many years, and I've seen first hand a lot of the wonderful things they do for children," Delbert McClinton said. "Their programs are fantastic and I'm very happy to help them with this event and also have this be the first event where Clay and I have worked together.”
NCT is a nonprofit, professional Actor's Equity theater serving more than 75,000 children and adults each year. It provides more than 7,500 free tickets for schools throughout Middle Tennessee and was recently ranked the nation's fourth best children's theater by Time magazine. It was founded in 1931 by the Junior League of Nashville and is now recognized as the oldest professional children's theater in the country. ?
Clay McClinton to perform
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By Cindy Watts May 12, 2005 Clay McClinton's last name may sound a bit familiar to many...By Cindy Watts
May 12, 2005
Clay McClinton's last name may sound a bit familiar to many music fans. His dad, Delbert McClinton, has been around for decades. Songs like "Sandy Beaches" and "Good Man/Good Woman" as well as song-writing credits for Garth Brooks, The Blues Brothers and Martina McBride, catapulted the elder McClinton into the spotlight more than three decades ago.
Now Delbert's son Clay wants to follow in his father's well-lit footsteps. Clay will continue on his path to stardom tonight when he plays Murfreesboro's Bunganut Pig in Georgetown Park.
"The show will be a collaboration of original and cover songs," says Clay, with an audible Texas accent. "Some people call it Americana. It's country and rock and jazz and blues, all the stuff that falls through the cracks. It's Bob Dylan, Willie Nelson, Tom Waites and my Dad all rolled together. On the CD it's pretty upbeat and it all seems to tie together."
Clay readily admits his father is a major influence, but says he wants to appeal to younger fans, too. "Some of the songs have a roots kind of old-time sound," he explains. "I want to keep my music fresh and new, but you can definitely hear the influences from some of the old greats. My Dad has definitely played a role in where my music takes me, but I like good-feeling music, and I want a younger group to latch on. I want Dad's fan base to like what I'm doing, too, because that's where some of my first fans have come from."
At nearly 30 years old, Clay says he spent much of his childhood observing the ups and downs of the music industry, but adds the roller-coaster ride didn't deter him from wanting to be a part of it himself.
"Growing up I saw firsthand what the music business is about," he explains. "Other kids had things I didn't have, but I can't imagine doing anything else. This is all I ever wanted to do, and I think I would have been a musician even if I wasn't raised in it. But what an opportunity." In later years Clay says he's developed an interest in songwriting and recently made the move to Nashville from Texas to cultivate that talent. "I've really gotten interested in songwriting in the last two or three years," he says. "I've been co-writing with Dad some and I've gotten into writing with other people since I moved here. It's a great way to express life and other people's lives. It's a release, and at the same time I love it, too. It's fun to get together and make something out of nothing."
Clay says in the few years he's been songwriting, he's learned how easy it is to get attached to his work. "They say songs are like your children," he explains. "You love all of them and it's hard to have a favorite." However, if the young musician was forced to choose a favorite off his latest CD, he says it would probably be "Texas Memory," which he plans to play tonight. "It's about my past and kind of like my bio, in short," says Clay. "It's a pretty personal song to me. It's a whole 'nother world on stage."
Former local Clay McClinton releases "Out of the Blue"
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By Evan Wyloge March 31, 2005 The wafting odor of scotch and water pierces a hazy cloud of ci...By Evan Wyloge
March 31, 2005
The wafting odor of scotch and water pierces a hazy cloud of cigarette smoke. Sweat slides down lonesome brows. The click-clack of cowboy boots rattles as swinging doors squeal on hinges begging for oil. Isolation itches in the sweltering heat as bittersweet beauty and naivete glisten on the pursed lips of the Southern peach temptress. This Texas-born, honky tonk dreamscape paints itself in my mind as I listen to Out of the Blue, Clay McClinton's poignant Southern blues album. McClinton is familiar to Flagstaff residents as part of the well-known, blues-grass band, Second Harvest. Their name is recognized and they've played with some of the best bluegrass, blues and country bands that have come through town.
But McClinton is now ready to debut his own music. With Out of the Blue, his first solo album, which was produced by another former Flag local Vinny Constantine, McClinton is showing the standalone strength of his songwriting abilities. This freshman album makes McClinton's ability clear. He has a strong grasp of his own voice and sound. He doesn't take on any sort of persona and he doesn't strive toward imitation. The songs on his album have a predictable but entertaining range. With tracks like "When It Rains", McClinton tucks his listener into a dreamy nostalgia. Flowing piano glides easily atop soft, brush drumming and steady high-hat. Smoky organ chords work their way into the mix. McClinton details the plodding existence of a man who once had a direction, but is now haunted by his path and location. "Made some coffee, smoked a cigarette, turned off the lights and went back to bed," McClinton sings. "Lying in the dark rackin his brain, he's called her so many things he can't remember her name, He steps outside, and it's cold and wet, he can't remember what he's trying to forget, he walks the streets all alone cause the storm in his head keeps raging on." Other tracks are upbeat and driving. Back-beat drumming, sparse guitar, bouncing piano and bari sax kicks backdrop energetic blues bar vocals in an archetypal fashion on tunes like "Starting to Itch." McClinton displays a sharp musical prowess with well-placed viola and upright bass, which add to the respectfully anachronistic feel of a good portion of the album. McClinton's vocals saunter with a Southern twang. The lyrics are nothing out of the ordinary, but his aural demeanor marches on;self-assured and content. Listening to his album, you can almost hear him smile and nod in comfortable certainty. Although one wouldn't want to expect the full range of instruments found on the album, McClinton's live performances must be fun to watch. Heartfelt presentation permeates the album and is probably not abandoned there.
Out of the Blue is a well-assembled album. The musicians are solid, the tunes don't overstep their natural scope and the production is seamless. McClinton refrains from plunging into overambitious experimentation, but never delves into mediocrity. His talent is evident, and his future projects will undoubtedly expand his firm musicianship.
His Father's Son...Kinda
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by Brad Springs July 2006 If you know anything of the Texas music scene than you know who Delber...by Brad Springs
If you know anything of the Texas music scene than you know who Delbert McClinton is, from his childhood roots in Lubbock through his days making a mark on the Forth Worth music scene. From there on to California, Nashville and beyond.
Delbert has made his mark penning songs that were covered by such notables as Emmylou Harris, The Blues Brothers (the original Dan Aykroyd and John Belushi Blues Brothers), Vince Gill, Wynona, Trisha Yearwood, Martina McBride, Garth Brooks the list goes on and on. Not to mention his 2001 release “Nothing Personal” debuted on five Billboard charts and earned him a Grammy Award.
I might also mention that in 1962 while playing harmonica with Bruce Channel on tour in Europe he showed some licks to a young rhythm guitarist for a band at the bottom of the bill one night, who just happened to be John Lennon. Those licks later showed up on hits by a little band called The Beatles. His four decades of giving his blend of blues, country and blue-eyed soul are phenomenal accomplishments to say the least.
So imagine this guy is your father, large shoes to fill I’d say. Clay McClinton doesn’t try to be his father, while taking all the influences he had growing up in stride he struck out to make his own distinct mark on music. He grew up being taught both guitar and harmonica by both his father and older brother Monty and at age 19 he decided to pursue music as a career more seriously. While he admits to never really thinking of any other career than music his approach to it was not geared to seeking the spotlight as a priority but rather to writing good songs first. A trait that so many would be musicians have to learn over years of trial and error. If the songs are good the spotlight will follow, like it or not. As a teenager he had already played in a couple Fort Worth based bands but upon graduation he took his first step down the professional musician path by moving to Austin and absorbing the creative juices so to speak that ooze from the town. While he sat in with numerous local acts he still was intent on perfecting his own original songs rather than jumping into a cover band situation and lending his name to it, he’s Delbert’s son after all and the musical doors that that alone opens could have been an easy avenue to jump into and have great success playing standards mixed in with his fathers songs and his own. In a musical hot bed such as Austin a lot of the time the true original music gets overlooked for the party college atmosphere where the band plays all the songs you know and love and can sing along to. Those bands generally get paid much better as well. It’s a tough town and my own personal hat is off to Clay for not taking that route and sticking to making “his own” good music, even though that is the road less traveled if you want to be heard or paid for that matter.
Clay’s next musical move would be across the pond to Europe where he spent four months living and playing in hostels with some fellow like minded musicians exploring the different musical cultures that Europe had to offer and expanding on his own musical knowledge. In his own words “I thought it would make me a better writer, and I think it did, plus it was a hell of a lot of fun.” When returning to the states he took up residence for a few years in Flagstaff, AZ, once more exploring musical boundaries and styles by playing with two very different bands. A Texas stomp and southern blues outfit called The Blues Project and Second Harvest, which was a more acoustic blues, bluegrass and folk entity. After a couple years The Clay McClinton Band emerged putting Clay and
his Telecaster center stage. Write good songs and the spotlight will find you was coming into play and this brought about the next step in Clay’s career and his latest move to Nashville. In Nashville he set about the business of cultivating his songwriting and production skills so that they met his self imposed high standards. That led to his debut release which he co-produced, “Out of the Blue”, an album title that I find ironic because Clay McClinton has come from anywhere but out of the blue. His trip has been one not of random acts but rather a one track progression toward a goal to first write and produce great music and them perform it secondary. Once again in his own words “I love performing but I also love producing and writing. I love sitting down on a rainy day with a cup of joe and writing and maybe not even performing that song but having someone else do it.” Spoken like a true musician’s musician, it has to be right before it sees the spotlight.
“Out of the Blue” features 11 songs that while I must admit you can feel a little Delbert in some of the songs, two are co-writes with Dad, you also get a heaping helping of just who Clay has grown to be in his travels across the land. Horns, bluegrass, honky tonk, singer-songwriter, blues and soulful rock are all musical influences that come together to make those little distinctions that make it Clay McClinton’s voice alone. A song written on a train leaving Switzerland, a blues song written out of improv in a Flagstaff venue, a rainy day in Nashville inspired song. Songs that were written from personal experiences and some from experiences that were just made up so that everyone can relate to the words. A record that in as short an explanation possible takes you on a journey through his varied experiences in musical styles and genres and is done well in every transition. To include his first song ever written “Far Too Long.” A song that in the liner notes is explained like this…”This is the first song I ever wrote. My songwriting wasn’t developed at that time, so it’s a little abstract. It’s a little more amateur, but I wanted it on this CD because it’s got some tradition in my background. I played it in my bluegrass band and in a band in Austin and my blues band. And Dad’s always loved it. When people say I sound like Dad on this one, I consider it a compliment. I have my own style, but he’s the man. I highly respect him as a singer and songwriter and performer. It’s nice to have someone like him to look up to.” In my humble opinion that’s spoken like a true artist with great humility and respect for the craft he practices. In a world where so much hinges on connections and who you know to get to the top it’s an inspiration to see someone that rather than ride a coat tail or try and fill his father’s big shoes has set out to get a pair of big shoes on his own. He’s off to a damn fine start.
Clay’s band is comprised of Andrew Bett on piano and backing vocals, Jim Evans on drums and percussion, and Jeff Beam on bass. They will be making a pass through Texas in late summer so keep your eyes open and visit www.claymcclinton.com for specific dates. Look for live shows coming to Texas in September. Clay is also in the studio in Nashville working on his sophomore debut (as of yet untitled) so keep your ears peeled for that. You can hear songs from “Out of the Blue” played locally on 98.1 KVET and 90.5 KUT in Austin so request those spins. If your local station isn’t spinning it or doesn’t have it drop an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and I’m sure his folks would gladly send one out to the station. Better yet hit the website and pick one up for yourself, I recommend it.
And as always get your butt off the couch and go out and support live “original” music in Texas.
Clay McClinton makes a name for himself with a mix of Americana
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by Zach Hanner July 13, 2006 The progeny of musicians often find themselves toiling away in thei...by Zach Hanner
July 13, 2006
The progeny of musicians often find themselves toiling away in their famous parents’ shadows, unable to shake the moniker of “so-and so’s kid.” But with the arrival of Waylon’s boy Shooter Jennings and Bocephus’ son Hank Williams III, it appears that a whole slew of musical young’uns born in the ‘70s are out there making their papas proud.
Add Delbert McClinton’s son Clay to that growing list.
Clay McClinton has called Nashville home for the past two years. But despite the fact that he moved to Music City USA to further his career, he can’t shake the layer of Texas dust off of the music that he learned so well in his boyhood home of Fort Worth.
“Nashville’s great, but Texas is home,“ McClinton said. “It just feels natural, especially from a musical perspective. I’ve always loved the blues and I’ve always been a fan of country music and a lot of what I do comes directly from living in Texas. It’s always nice to go back there and reconnect with that.”
But McClinton wasn’t satisfied with what he’d learned as a kid in Fort Worth and during a few years in Austin. In 2000, he and some friends spent several months following the minstrel’s path all over Europe.
“Music is definitely a global thing, a language that we all share with one another,” McClinton said. “Traveling through Europe was an unreal experience. I went there with two other guys and we just took our guitars. We stayed in a lot of hostels for free, mostly because we’d play music in the evening. We met a lot of other musicians there and we played with them on the streets for money. It was great just experiencing life and continuing our musical education.”
Upon his return, McClinton settled in Flagstaff, AZ to refine his songwriting technique.
“I knew I wasn’t ready for a place like Nashville yet, so my friends and I decided to move there to hone our skills,” McClinton said, “ I was in a bluegrass band there and that was great for developing harmonies and writing music.”
After two years with the bluegrass act, McClinton started his own band and set about touring and continuing to learn the business. Last year, his debut album, Out of the Blue, caught the ear of a number of critics and found it’s way on to rotation at “Americana” stations. McClinton’s amalgam of sounds showcases his broad range of tastes as well as the solid foundation his father provided him with.
“He always taught me that you just play what’s in your soul and whatever comes out, comes out.” McClinton said. “I love ragtime, Dixieland, jazz, blues, basically roots music. You know, original American sounds. I just take what I like and listen to it and it comes out in what I do. I love Ray Charles and I love Doc Watson. I love Willie Nelson and I love my dad, JJ Cale, Rodney Crowell and plenty of others. I just put it all in a blender and see how it turns out.”
And whether or not Clay ever scores a crossover hit like his dad’s Givin’ It Up For Your Love, he plans on doing things his way and compromising with Music City machinery as little as possible.
“There are so many great songwriters in this town that you can’t help but be involved in the scene and inspired by it,“ McClinton said. “That’s one of the reasons I moved here, to learn about the industry. But at the same time, there are limits to what I’ll do, mostly because I want to stay true to my values and myself. I surround myself with the same kind of people."
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Brenda Barbee - RMR Staff Reviewer July 2006 With Clay McClinton’s debut CD, Out of the Blu...Brenda Barbee - RMR Staff Reviewer
With Clay McClinton’s debut CD, Out of the Blue, you get eleven original, great songs that give the listener a really cool blend of blues, honky tonk with a little rock mixed in. True, Clay is the son of Grammy winner Delbert McClinton and so Delbert’s influence is pretty much to be expected, but, even though the acorn did not fall far from the tree, the music you hear is Clay’s own unique style. And you are going to love that style.
Clay really gets into his music. Using his strong vocals, he sings his tunes with conviction and feelings that embrace the listener and does not let go. In addition to his singing prowess, Clay is also an extremely talented songwriter. His stories are inspired, poetic and reflect a sense of maturity that really belies his 31 years.
The musical accomplishment on the CD is incredible. Clay and his band present the just right mix of strings, drums, horns and keyboards to complete an already dynamite CD.
As the son of a Grammy winner, expectations can be extremely high and can create a daunting challenge. Based on his debut CD, Clay McClinton is most certainly up to that challenge.
Set list varies for every show. Shows consist of 90% original material. Clay covers a few songs from: