Stars of Texas
Daddy Was A Pistol
The Stars of Texas
By Brad Springs
February 2007, Volume 3, Issue 1
Singer/songwriter/guitarist Clay McClinton’s music sound is woven together with rawhide and hemp, barbwire and willow reed. It’s that eclectic sound born in Texas where honky tonk, Delta blues and soulful rock meld seamlessly. From the first strains of One of Those Guys, the opening track to Clay’s new record, Son of a Gun, released on his own Clayster Records you can without a doubt feel the father’s influence on the son. The daddy referred to in this instance as a pistol would be none other than Texas music legend Delbert McClinton. If you aren’t familiar with Delbert you’ve never heard Texas music. You can read the earlier history that explores just where Clay’s roots are grown from by visiting TheStarsofTexas.com and having a look at the first piece I wrote on Clay in our archives section (July 2006).
We’re not talking about where he’s been today though. Today we’re exploring just where Clay is going. The strength of this, his second release and a quick look at his tour schedule paints the picture quite nicely. While the title track may pay homage to his father he’s not trying to be his father and the rest of the record explores a blend of mournful country style ballads interlaced with Texas blues which may kind of remind you of Delbert but are nowhere close to a mimic of him.
He may take a little bit from dear ole dad but this is definitely his own groove. This is a great record. A Thing For You gives me a kind of early Jimmy Buffet feel for some reason, not that it could be mistaken for one of his songs, maybe it’s just one of those songs that makes you feel like you should be sitting on a boat drinking rum while listening to it. The haunting slide on If We Don’t Work Together and the message behind the tune is a perfect mixture and perfect reflection on just what the world we live in is becoming and a plea to the people living on this planet. The slow funky shuffle groove of Howlin’ at the Moon laced with piano in all the right places, followed right up with a rowdy honky tonk fiddle tune in Dig Deep where the message is “let’s fix this thing baby”. The Man I Wanna Be is a ghostly dark ballad that would be the perfect song for driving a long desert highway under a full moon and contemplating life’s decisions.
A trio of tunes about life on the road with Homesick Blues as it’s title suggests is an interesting country blues hybrid, Missing You with it’s slow crying fiddle strains and a guest appearance by Delbert and rounded out by Worn Down to the Bone, a piano and fiddle driven up beat tune that should be added to every traveling music compilation from now on. The final two tracks go like the previous tracks, in slightly different directions but still somehow tied together so that it just all fits somehow. What Can’t Be Understood left me with New Orleans taste in my mouth, a piano driven tune that is like what Dr. John’s music would sound like if he had been a Texas resident his whole life.
The final track Listening to the Rain takes off at a clip to end the record just like it started “fired up”. It’s a really great record hands down and you’ll be hearing these songs cross pollinating across all kinds of radio dials and in all kinds of genre formats. I think a line from Clay’s website sums it up just as good as anything I could come up with. “It’s music that introduces “alternative country” to “contemporary blues” and the two genres become fast friends”. One of the differences between his first CD and Son of a Gun is that Clay used mostly studio musicians for Out of the Blue. Now he has his own road band, and many of the cuts feature those musicians. His band is made up of some top-notch folks too. Hailing originally from the UK where he was brought up, Andrew Bett (piano and backing vocals) knocked around the London rock scene during the Eighties as a writer and performer, before embarking on a global journey that took him first to Sydney, Australia, where for much of the Nineties he was a contracted songwriter/artist, and as well consolidated his status as a touring keyboard and rhythm guitar player for country and pop/rock acts.
After meeting his future wife (an ex-patriot American) in the industry there, he later accompanied her back to San Diego, CA, in order for her to spend time nearer to her family. During their several years there he ran a business unrelated to music, but since their relocation to Nashville he has thoroughly enjoyed a return to the rough and tumble, in particular, in particular his spot in Clay’s band, and the challenging stimulus of high-quality musicianship that so characterizes the city’s scene.
Originally from Cleveland, OH, Jim Evans is one of the great up and coming drummers in the Nashville scene today. From Blues to Jazz to Rock to Funk, Jim has been professionally touring for the past fifteen years. At age nine, Jim discovered his love for percussion and has been involved in different drumming programs throughout his high school and college years. Jim also has a great talent for producing arrangements for original music and has been writing his own material.
Gary Craig was born in Subic Bay, Philippines in 1964. He moved to Athens, Alabama in 1969 after his father retired from the Navy. Getting an early start on the piano at age nine, Gary decided five years later that electric bass was his instrument of choice. Through his high school and college years Gary learned to play brass instruments in concert and marching bands. He was also introduced to jazz, which was the best way to further his bass playing abilities. After leaving school, the "road" was the most logical decision for Gary, staying out there for four years straight in an 80's rock band called "Bratz". After leaving them, Mr. Craig strayed in and out of the country music scene for several years until joining the band, “Geneva". With this group Gary was given the opportunity of playing for our troops overseas. Being the first musical group sent overseas since the beginning of Operation Iraqi Freedom, they played in the Azores Islands, Spain, Italy, Malta, Turkey and Egypt. As he said, "They were the best audience anyone could ever ask for!" Upon leaving that band, Gary joined up with Clay McClinton and Company.
The Clay McClinton Band not only has a record out with the name but also tour like a Son of a Gun. Check out the website for cities the boys will be hitting in the next couple months. Clay rolls back Texas way for shows in Lubbock, Wichita Falls and Conroe at the end of March.
Hey venue booking type folk take note; he’s got a few open dates in early April you may want to book him while you can. Contact his booking guy Doug Tackett at www.road-dawg.com and fill one of those empty days before he heads back toward some Tennessee shows. You’ll be glad you did, the reviews are in, you don’t spend that much time on the road playing across that many state lines unless you know how to do it right.
Pick up a copy of Son of a Gun or Clay’s debut release Out of the Blue and get up to date information on show dates and venues by visiting www.claymcclinton.com. Give this hard working son of Texas your support by calling radio stations and requesting those spins, he’d do it for you if you were in a band. Hope everyone’s New Year has started off with a bang and you all get just as lovey-dovey as humanly possible on Valentine’s Day. And yep it’s me I gotta say it. Get off your butts, go see some Live Texas music, it’s instant karma.