The Cortez Journal: Clay McClinton

Clay McClinton: 'Livin' Out Loud'
By Paula Bostrom Journal Staff Writer for The Cortez Journal
Article Last Updated: Thursday, August 25, 2011 6:13pm

Music star Clay McClinton can dish out 'alternative country, contemporary blues' and a mean pineapple curry.

He's a talented singer, can write soulful songs, and make a mean pineapple curry dish, but when it comes to mathematics, Clay McClinton is not a first choice to hire as a tutor.

He is however, a great choice when it comes to listening to him live in concert.
McClinton and his four-piece band will play at the Dolores River Brewery, 100 S. Fourth St., at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 30.

While he may be talented in writing songs, singing and playing instruments, he fumbles if he has to rely on music's mathematical concepts. Rhythm, tempo, chords and even notes revolve around mathematical patterns, but McClinton admits he's not so good at figuring that out.

"I don't work like that. I pick (an instrument) up and start fiddling with it and hear it, and that's how I learned. We all have our smarts in different areas," he said with a laugh.

McClinton's sound has been called honky-tonk, Americana and Texas Roots. He describes it as "alternative country, contemporary blues."

Songs from his third album, "Livin' Out Loud," are being played at radio stations across the country.

"It's doing real well," he said. "We're getting a lot of airplay with a lot of songs."

In South Carolina, listeners are keen on the song "Trouble is Easy to Find," about McClinton's not-so-innocent time growing up.
In Texas, where he and his wife live, stations are playing "Whole Lotta Work," a driving blues, country song that laments how sometimes it's a lot of work just to have a little fun.

As the son of Grammy Award winning country artist Delbert McClinton, Clay grew up surrounded by musical instruments and was always attracted to tinker around on them, learning to play them by ear.

"It's just one of those weird things," he said. "I never remember learning how to play harmonica. It's just like one day it's, 'OK, I understand this.'"

Genetics may have been a factor in his musical gifts. At the same time, his dad's music held some influence on the type of sound he plays.

"You don't really choose it. It kind of chooses you, as far as what you've been raised around and what makes you feel good," McClinton said. "I just tried to pay attention to not so much fads or what people were listening to, but what made my ears happy listening to."

When writing songs, McClinton gets a melody or chord structure in his head and fishes around until he comes up with something.

"I just kind of think what that melody or chord structure say. Is it a happy song? Is it sad? Is it angry? And then I try to figure out a good hook to match that and then wrap the words around it," he said, adding that he's in the process of writing songs for his fourth album.

Other influences besides his dad were the music of Willie Nelson, Johnny Cash and Rodney Crowell. McClinton said his music is kind of like a jumbalaya.
Speaking of food, cooking is McClinton's second passion behind music. Among his specialities are Thai and Greek foods. Last week, he cooked pineapple curry with chicken and vegetables. It's hot in Austin and time for lighter fare, he said. And if he's never cooked a recipe before, he figures it out - kind of like his music.

So, if you're looking for good food in Austin, head over to Clay McClinton's house. For shining musical virtuosity, head to the Dolores River Brewery on Tuesday.

Reach Paula Bostrom at

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