THIS WEEK’S TOP STORIES
Festival of Music and Art: Headliner spans genres and draws crowds
By Carrie Humphreys
Delbert McClinton lists his genres of music as Americana, roots rock, blues rock, country rock, modern electric blues and progressive country.
“My style of music came from the Gulf of Mexico and flowed across Texas,” said the Grammy winner, speaking by phone from the home in Nashville he shares with his wife Wendy. “It’s timeless and works for any age.”
The audience for the Pawleys Island Festival of Music and Art agrees. “Our all-time attendance best seller is headliner Delbert McClinton,” said Gretchen Downer, who chairs the festival board. “Word of his concert appearance generated ticket sales before we even started actively advertising and selling tickets.”
McClinton, 77, has been singing his music since he was a youngster growing up in Fort Worth, Texas. He formed his first band at 14. His first gigs were in beer joints. In the 1960s, he was backup for folks like Sonny Boy Williamson II, Howlin’ Wolf, Lightnin’ Hopkins and Jimmy Reed. “It was Jimmy Reed who taught me how to play the harmonica,” he recalled.
McClinton recorded several regional singles before hitting the national chart in 1962, playing harmonica on Bruce Channel’s “Hey! Baby.” While on tour with Channel in the United Kingdom, McClinton instructed John Lennon on the finer points of blues harmonica playing.
“And I never saw him again,” said McClinton. “We were all on common ground back then. That was before The Beatles set the world on fire.”
Eventually McClinton’s unique sound caught fire. He has recorded hundreds of songs, many which he wrote. In 1982, he won a Grammy with Bonnie Raitt for “Good Man, Good Woman,” and hit the country charts with the Tanya Tucker duet “Tell Me About It” in 1993. Whereas his eclectic style had previously confounded labels or left him pigeonholed within the blues, by the 1990s it allowed him access across a full spectrum of roots music, epitomized by 1992’s “Never Been Rocked Enough.” Other career highlights include Emmylou Harris’s hit recording of McClinton’s composition “Two More Bottles of Wine” and the 1993 duet with Tanya Tucker. Etta James included two McClinton songs on her 2003 “Let’s Roll” album. In 2006, he won a Grammy for his album “The Cost of Living.” He was inducted into the Texas Heritage Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2011.
McClinton doesn’t take his good fortune for granted. “You’re only as good as your last show,” he said. He never considered another career. “I do this because I have to. When I have a good show I feel 10 feet tall. Same with writing songs, I always have a song in my head. I love putting words together and singing them. I know how to bring about emotion. It gives me great pleasure to move somebody.”
He has no plans to retire, but recalling his early days, he admits he has regrets, in particular his failed marriages and issues of substance abuse. He credits his third wife of 33 years for turning his life around. “I was going the wrong way like so many others,” McClinton said. “The wild times last longer in this business than most careers. All you have to do is carry a guitar and you draw women, girls. I always thought that was pretty cool.”
He’s not fond of the current singers who can’t go on stage without Auto-Tune, an audio processor that uses a proprietary device to measure and alter pitch in vocal and instrumental music recordings and performances. It was originally intended to disguise or correct inaccuracies. “That Auto-Tune system can make a donkey sing,” he said.
For fun, McClinton hosts a week-long cruise to the Caribbean every January. “It’s great therapy. Me and my friends play music all day until dawn,” he said. “Next year is our 24th year.”
Performing up close and personal is McClinton’s favorite venue. “I like the audience in my face. Right in front of me, rather than with spotlights and a crowd of 40,000 people,” he said.
And Southern audiences? “They are the best,” McClinton said. “Tell them to bring their dancin’ shoes.”
If you go
What: Delbert McClinton.
When: Oct. 7, 7 p.m.
Where: Reserve Golf Club.
How much: $85, $45, $30. Tickets at pawleysmusic.com.
Art and music share a stage? It’s Artrageous!
By Carrie Humphreys
Be prepared. You have never seen anything like Artrageous.
Artrageous combines an interactive performance of art, music, singing, dancing, Bunraku puppetry and theater presented by a cast of 12.
“Our show is a joyful experience. People go away saying, ‘That was fun,’” said Lauri Francis, the spokeswoman for the troupe.
The show is described as a showcase of artists painting at electric speed, creating giant works of art on giant easels while accompanied by live music, vocals and creative choreography. The first half of the show takes the audience on a musical journey through the decades from the 1940s until today. The second half is “a bit more crazy,” Francis said.
There is something magical about the experience of seeing music and art and dance on stage. “Each of us has to do it all from singing to dancing and we work really hard at it. It takes lots of energy,” she said.
Prior to the 90-minute performance, Artrageous members greet the audience with interactive activities. They may take a picture in front of a dripping paint backdrop, draw on a cast member or grab some bubble wrap for the show.
“Bubble wrap is the most talked about part of our show,” Francis said.
The roots of Artrageous were set years ago in 1980 by a group of friends looking to explore the arts and see the world.. The gaggle of jugglers, clowns and musicians first performed on the street corners of Granville Island in Vancouver. Now based in Tijeras, N.M., the group founders Daniel Moyer and Deborah Noble are still involved.
Today, having produced over 2,500 shows, the street performers dream to travel was actualized. Cast members, ages 12 to 60, have performed from Thailand to Paris, from California to Maine. “About the only state we haven’t been to is Delaware,” Francis said.
Artrageouos has been compared to Blue Man Group and Cirque du Soleil, said Francis. “But we really aren’t at all like them. We use the journey of music, art and dance as a tool to connect people to the arts. It’s all about interaction and getting to know the communities we go to.”
If you go
When: Oct. 6, 7 p.m.
Where: Reserve Golf Club.
How much: $45, $35, $25, free for ages 16 and under. Tickets at pawleysmusic.com.
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