Delbert McClinton, an American Treasure that just keeps getting better
By Rob Nagy
A seasoned veteran of the road, music legend Delbert McClinton has spent a lifetime sharing his straight-ahead roadhouse blues with adoring audiences around the world.
His latest studio release, “Prick of the Litter,” offers a blend of his signature soulful raspy vocal accentuated with a touch of inspiration from the classic jazz crooners of a bygone era reminiscent of Nat King Cole, Louis Armstrong and Johnny Mercer.
“I’ve been working with this band for about five years,” says McClinton, from his home in Texas. “We have found that we’ve played well together. We have an energy going between us that is beautiful and wonderful. Everybody likes everybody and we’re having a lot of fun. We started trying to write songs.”
“We just kept getting together and writing songs,” adds McClinton. “I have a home in Mexico that I run away to every chance that I get. We started going down there and having a week to ten days, just the guys writing songs, which has become my favorite activity. We wrote all these songs and recorded them. We got exactly what we wanted. The songs, the band, the production, everything came together. I did what I came to do with this album.”
“I consider this my finest work,” says McClinton. “I always consider what I am currently working on to be my finest work. I feel lucky. It’s a good record and I know it’s a good record and people think it’s a good record. That’s all I’m looking for. All that matters is that the music pleases me. If someone likes it that’s even better.”
In spite of all the personal accolades McClinton is quick to praise his current road band, “Self Made Men,” which includes Jack Bruno (drums), Dana Robbins (saxophone),
Quentin ‘Q’ Ware (trumpet), James Pennebaker (guitar), Mike Joyce bass), Kevin McKendree (piano) and Bob Britt (guitar) as the best band he’s ever had.
Stand out tracks from the twelve-song release, which features a guest appearance by Jimmi Vaughan and Lou Ann Barton, includes, “Don’t Do It,” “Doin’ What You Do,” “Middle of Nowhere,” “Skip Chaser, “Like Lovin’,” “Used to Be,” “The Hunt Is On” and “Rosy.”
Born in Lubbuck, Texas relocating to Ft. Worth, Texas, McClinton worked the bar scene backing such legendary artists as Sonny Boy Williamson II, Howlin’ Wolf, Lightnin’ Hopkins, Muddy Waters, Bo Diddley and Jimmy Reed.
The late ‘70s saw McClinton enter his most musically fertile and commercially successful period. He had a number one hit with Emmylou Harris in 1978 with her recording of his song “Two More Bottles of Wine.” In 1980, he had his only Top 40 hit “Giving It Up for Your Love.” A duet with Bonnie Raitt, “Good Man, Good Woman,” won him a Grammy in 1991, he won a second Grammy in 2006 for his album “The Cost of Living” in the category Best Contemporary Blues Album. He had his highest charting single "Tell Me About It," in 1992, a duet he performed with Tanya Tucker.
“I’ve always been focused on making music as good as I can make it,” says McClinton. “I always wanted to do it so good my entire life and get better at it, that’s the pay off. I get better at it, at least I do to me and I’m the only one I try to please.”
Heralded for his hard driving passion and commitment to being authentic, McClinton credits the fans that have stuck with him and the energy they bring to his live shows.
“I want to see them get excited,” says McClinton. “I want to see them have fun. I want to see them move around. I want to see everybody on the same page for a little while. When they do that it excites me and keeps me going. So, it’s give a little and take a little. If you can get that going with an audience everybody is having a good time.”
In recent years McClinton was inducted into the Texas Heritage Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2011. In 2017, he was nominated for Texas State Musician, a highly acclaimed state appointment akin to poet laureate.
“The last 10 years has been the most productive, exciting and memorable because I’m sober,” says McClinton. “It’s the best time I’ve ever had, I’m one of the fortunate few. You make a choice and figure out how to get there.”
“I’ve gotten better as I’ve grown older,” adds McClinton. “I know that to be a fact because I’ve lived with me a long time and I’ve gotten where I trust myself and that’s a pretty good place to be.”
Delbert McClinton performs at the Colonial Theater, 227 Bridge Street, Phoenixville, PA 19460 Saturday December 30, 2017 at 8:00 P.M. For tickets and further info call 610-917-1228 or visit www.the colonialtheatre.com
To stay up to date with Delbert McClinton visit www.delbert.com