Clay McClinton makes name for himself...
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."