Three Chords and the Truth

Island Moon
Three Chords and the Truth
By Ronnie Narmour

October 24, 2013

In a week dominated by cover bands, I found one very bright spot in the live music line-up this weekend and his name is Clay McClinton (Austin, TX). McClinton, the son of Texas roadhouse legend Delbert McClinton, played The Back Porch in Port Aransas last Saturday Night. I had spend the weekend running the gamut between the Porch, Shorty’s and Giggity’s listening to Cathouse, Red Giant, Jerry Diaz and Ruben Limas who put on good shows, but shows dominated by set after set of cover songs. And these guys represent a pretty large array of genres from hard rock and soft metal, to 80’s and 90’s mainstream rock, to folk, country, pop and even pop rock. That’s not necessarily a bad thing but it is what it is…songs that sound familiar no matter who is playing them. These bands all played crowd pleasers and everyone seemed to enjoy themselves but when I rolled up on Clay McClinton, it became obvious how much difference original songs can make. I was immediately absorbed. I admit to being a little prejudiced when it comes to Clay, I grew up listening to his dad and have seen Delbert perform dozens of times. Delbert’s definitely in my Hall of Fame, so it follows I’d be partial to his son. All that said, I’d rather see someone do good covers than bad originals.

Clay has just released his fourth CD, Bitin’ at the Bit, which was produced by Grammy award winning producer Gary Nicholson, an old family friend and faithful guitar sideman to Delbert for many years. The songs have a definite country/roadhouse feel and the only songs he covered by other writers were those of Nicholson, Delbert and Stephen Bruton plus one old one by Kenny Rogers and the First Edition (What Condition My Condition Was In). McClinton’s material maintains the roadhouse traditions of incorporating country, blues, Tex-Mex and rock shuffles, and his band of road warriors played each one with passion and perfection. The show was a perfect example of a professional road band doing their job well. I know cover bands are an important part of the entertainment formula, but when the real deal stares you in the eye, stand up and take note. Some day cover bands will be playing Clay McClinton songs.

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