The Taos News

Country-blues artist Clay McClinton to perform in Taos

By Melody Romancito

What is gumbo? It’s a stew with a little of this and a little of that. Most important ingredient (besides the sausage) is the spice. It’s what makes a gumbo what it is.

Clay McClinton’s musical roots are country, blues, rock ‘n’ roll and Tex- Mex. They blend effortlessly into a sound he likes to call “Texas gumbo.”

McClinton is serving it up Saturday (March 15), 8:30 p.m., at the KTAOS Solar Center, 9 State Road 150, north of El Prado. Tickets are $10.

After spending 10 years woodshedding his version of that Texas Gumbo sound, McClinton has showcased his range as an artist and writer on his fourth album, Bitin’ at the Bit (Red Chili Records, Feb. 18, 2014).

McClinton pays homage to some of his biggest influences, including longtime family friend Gary Nicholson, who produced this album.

Working together for the first time, they recorded at the Grammy winner’s Nashville studio, Fearless Recording. They also co-wrote many of what McClinton calls his best songs yet.

McClinton’s father, Delbert, also shares writing credit on “Stories We Can Tell,” a Rolling Stones-like rocker, and “Beer Joint” — the latter of which contains contributions by “Hey Baby” legend Bruce Channel. The father and son duo also trade vocals on Delbert’s “Victim of Life’s Circumstances.” That’s the title track of Delbert’s 1975 ABC Records debut.

On “Bitin’ at the Bit,” McClinton also honors Woody Guthrie and the late Stephen Bruton; he celebrates the former in the contemplative “Bound for Glory,” written with fellow Austin resident George Ensle, and the latter via his Tex-Mex take on “What a Little Love Can Do,” which Bruton and Nicholson wrote.

That song was performed by “Crazy Heart” film star Jeff Bridges on his self- titled solo album. McClinton says it’s just a coincidence that he also revisits another song with both Bridges and Lone Star connections: “Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition Was In),” was penned by Texan Mickey Newbury and was heard in “The Big Lebowski.”

“My style is just what feels good to me,” McClinton said. “I’ve never been into categorizing art, but I would say it falls somewhere between country and blues with a dash of Tejas and a side of jazz.”

“Dad used to open for Willie all the time in the late ’70s and early ’80s, and it was normal for all of us kids to be running around backstage,” McClinton said in the official press release for the album. “It was like a big family of friends — and still is.”

With a new Burnside Distribution deal and touring to both coasts and beyond, McClinton said he looks forward to serving up his Texas gumbo with fans everywhere.

Doors open at 4 p.m. For more information, call (575) 758-5826. For more information about the artist, visit

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