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"Newspaper article"

Band of Brothers

Trio, plus Dad, grow closer musically and spiritually by performing, writing and recording Christian music.
Feature Writer

When twins Mark and Blake Clifton of Tyler were youngsters, their parents encouraged them to take up the piano.

After gaining a modicum proficiency, the boys were asked to share their newly developed talents during worship service at church.

"Blake and I were scared, but our parents said, 'You'll do it,' so we did," said Mark, 21.

After gaining a modicum proficiency, the boys were asked to share their newly developed talents during worship service at church.

"Blake and I were scared, but our parents said, 'You'll do it,' so we did," said Mark, 21.

Eventually nervous squirming was replaced by confidence.

The brothers began writing, practicing and performing other instruments alongside older brother, Scott Clifton, 24, already an accomplished guitarist.

Eight years later, the trio continues to play their energetic style of Christian music in a band they call the Cliftones.

They perform frequently for church youth gatherings, but doors are opening to minister musically in other secular and Christian venues, including the spring Texas A&M BYX Island Party where they appeared in a line-up that included Dave Barnes, Warren Barfield and Bethany Dillon.

Four members of the Clifton family of Tyler joined forces to form the Cliftones, a band that delivers energetic Christian music to youth groups, churches and other gatherings. Members include (from left) Scott Clifton, Blake Clifton, Gaylon Clifton and Mark Clifton.
The group just cut its first CD and Internet sales, available via MySpace and, are starting to take off.

At first glance, these guys could be just another garage band.

Trendy T-shirts aside, something deeper seems to be at work, something only a band of brothers would understand.

"We don't have to question our loyalties or where our hearts lie," Mark said. "We know our reasons for being here are centered on Christ. We feel like God was leading us to do this."


The band makes their art look so easy.

With so many creative minds at work, there are bound to be occasional blips.

"There are times we just have to put the instruments down," said Blake, who plays the drums. "It can get pretty challenging."

As they continue growing as music artists and as partners, flare-ups over tempos and titles are becoming less frequent.

"It's been a real growing experience," Scott said. "Our purpose is to glorify Him. I can't think of anyone else I'd rather do that with than these guys - they are my best friends."

The dynamics of the band changed dramatically about a year ago when it was realized they needed someone to play bass guitar.

When a suitable choice didn't immediately surface for the brothers, their father Gaylon Clifton casually offered to fill in after discussing the possibilities with wife, Edith.

To his surprise, his sons accepted the offer with great enthusiasm.

"I used to play acoustic guitar, but I hadn't really played much since I married and had kids," Gaylon said. "I started taking lessons and practicing, a lot. It's become a hobby and a ministry. I just love it. I could forget to eat I enjoy playing so much."

His role with his sons' band appears multi-faceted.

Scott Clifton, 24, of Tyler, plays Christian music alongside his brothers and father to fulfill the family’s ministry.

“He’s pretty much our road guy,” Scott said. “If we’re getting heated about something, he serves as referee.”

“Dad pays for the meals and the gas,” Mark said. “We like that.”

The opportunity to interact as artists and partners has proven to be an eye-opening experience for everyone.

“Dad is definitely still the same man as when I was growing up,” Blake said. “Now I’m able to understand more of what he taught me.”

Mark agreed.

“I respect him, but we mess with him too,” he said. “We hang out and we have a good time, and we see how the things he taught us were true.”

Scott said he’s seen change in his father as well.

“He’s loosened up a lot,” he said. “I’m used to him being Dad, but it’s been fun to have him as a member and play with us.”

Watching his sons handle the band and its business has been deeply rewarding, Gaylon said.

“I’m not in control of anything, I just stand back and let them handle things,” he said. “It’s been special, real special, and I can’t think of anything I’d rather do. The fact that they want me to be included as one of God’s representatives … that’s what I’m most proud about.”

The band didn’t start out as a ministry, the guys said.

“We just thought it would be fun to play,” Scott said. “Then we started receiving a lot of interest from people who heard us.”

The band’s full length CD “Shackles” features a collection of 11 songs that mix upbeat rhythms with spiritual messages.

Most of - Tyler Morning Telegraph


Cliftones self-titled 4-song demo, 2006
Shackles, 11 song cd, 2007
Worry, Single, 2008



In 2006, three brothers who played and sang music in a broad range of settings decided to use their music as a ministry tool together. In early 2007, Dad joined the band on the bass. It was then that Cliftones began to see a vision for sharing this uniquely family message to instill hope and encourage people through how God has impacted their own lives. Each member, as followers of Jesus Christ, continues to find meaning and purpose in using their gifts together. God has put on their heart specifically to minister to students and young adults. Along with their original music, Cliftones play worship music for Christian ministries and events.