Clay McClinton and the Blues Project

"I just dropped in to see what condition my condition was in", sings Clay McClinton, as the Blues Project nails the famous Kenny Rogers tune. After the songs's appearance in the Cohen Brothers' film, "The Big Lebowski", the association is forever etched in the minds of movie fans all over and the tune has become an anthem. Spontaneously, I yell out a line from the movie, which prompts drummer, Andrew Lauher, to smile with excitement and carry on to the chorus.

The Blues Project seems to have a permanent slot on Monday nights at Charly's for the past year or so and has a nearly bottomless pit of songs. As a band with a varied selection of influences, they pull from virtually every musical time period to produce a sound that stems from the musical legacy of Texas stomp, southern blues and the grittiness of the delta.

Much of the authentic sound can be attributed to guitarist, Clay McClinton, who provides a powerful lead guitar presence with his Telecaster and shy but soulful stage presence. As a soloist, McClinton has the rare quality of being able to fill space with his leads and take the tunes into alternate spaces. Son of blues legend Delbert McClinton, Clay's influence can be heard in the laid back, but forceful, demeanor that surrounds the band's performances.

Providing the Keith Richards to McClinton's Mick Jagger is Brian DeMarco. As guitarist, singer and harmonica player, DeMarco gives the band extra color with a style that leans toward bluegrass and country rather than traditional blues.

Blues Project bassist, Wild Billy Kneebone, is one of the most experienced players in northern Arizona, having jammed with bands such as Rye and Each Other's Legend. McClinton, DeMarco and Kneebone all moonlight with local bluegrass unit Second Harvest, which has recently experienced some line up changes. Drummer, Andrew Lauher, and saxophonist, Peter Wrona, complete the fivesome.

The Blues Project plays at Charly's every Monday night. There is no cover and the band starts rolling around 9 p.m.

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