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Chris Gaines
04-18-2000, 06:24 AM
This week's Artist Of The Week is deadicated to a newer artist frm EMI and Virgin Records.<P><BR>Clay Davidson was born in the mountains of southwestern Virginia. From porches full of pickers, to bands gigging at fairs and local bars, to music played at church, the ridges and hollows surrounding the small town of Saltville, where Davidson grew up, were soaked in music. This meant gospel, soul, rock and roll, bluegrass, pop, blues, anything, really, all appreciated as the various elements of country. It was a world powered more by this ongoing richness of performed music than, for example, television. <P><BR>"For the longest time, Davidson laughs, I didn't know the difference between my family's music and the radio. My dad, a guitarist and probably my biggest influence, would always be sitting around doing some very tasty Chet Atkins or Duane Eddy number. He was one of twelve children, and all of them played or sang. My first performance was singing an Elvis song at my grandmother's house for about forty relatives. There I am, standing in the middle of the floor, shaking my leg, wailing out "Hound Dog." <P><BR>It seems natural that a gifted guy from such a fertile background might make a country album. And with Unconditional, the 29-year-old singer-writer guitarist's debut for Virgin Records Nashville, produced by the fresh studio combo of Virgin President & CEO Scott Hendricks and L.A.-based artist-writer-producer Jude Cole, that recording has arrived. Yanking the great tradition of the superbly well crafted country song to the instrumental freedom of soul, rock, blues,and gospel, Unconditional offers some of the most alive and on-target Nashville music in many seasons. Songs range from "I Can't Lie to Me," with its intensely fresh twist on blues friction, to "One More Day," which has a light yet stomping traveling vibe, to "Unconditional," an orchestrated ballad that grapples with the rare species of emotion that is permanent, unmovable. <P><BR>From there, Davidson's songs deal with unusual everyday relationships, as on "My Best Friend and Me," done in a soulful mountain singer-songwriter style. They deal with heartbreak, as on "Plain Old Pain," which ends up rocking right through its trouble. Occasionally, they're about hanging out, as on We're All Here, a blue-ribbon Waylon-like drinking tune. Then there is Doghouse Rights, about the slightly comic yet all too grave domestic result of, as Davidson sings in his no-fuss soulful tenor, "breaking the rules of love." This is a country groove, touched by blues intimacy and gospel fire, like none other. <P><BR>The eleven songs, seven of which Davidson himself wrote, comprise a stellar collection of Soulful Rocking Country. It's country music influenced by, but hardly limited to, Davidson's life-long love of artists like Merle Haggard, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Don Williams, and Elvis Presley. I like to think that my songs remove the guess-work, Davidson says. "Most things today are so full of guess-work. So much stuff actually aims to confuse you, to shoot over your head. I like the simpler stuff, the kind of thing where you don't have to wonder what someone is talking about. That doesn't mean that some of the songs can't be heard or contemplated in different ways; they have their share of little complexities. But I try to concentrate on whatever it is I want to communicate. I like that blinding focus of trying to be as simple as dirt." <P><BR>Davidson didn't come to Nashville immediately. When he was 18, he joined his older brother in Las Vegas for a while. All his life, Davidson had thrived on music, playing in bands with high school buddies ("four hour shows, he recalls), opening locally for touring artists like Tom T. Hall and Restless Heart. But Davidson knew he had something to say to people outside Virginia. <P><BR>"I went to Las Vegas on a Greyhound, he says in his straightforward way. When we passed <P><BR>through Nashville, I remember looking out the window. It was probably nine or ten at night, <P><BR>and the place was all lit up. I looked out the window and vowed, that is where I want to be. <P><BR>So, after returning home from Nevada, he made monthly trips to Nashville. Eventually, he auditioned for and won TNN's Charlie Daniels' Talent Round-up artist competition. With his award money, he and his wife Frances moved to central Tennessee, establishing themselves out-side Nashville, in nearby and more laid-back Mt. Juliet. Davidson was soon tapped as one of Nashville's most in-demand demo singers. Publishing deals and record company discussions followed. But his big break occurred when, through the wise intervention of his good friend <P><BR>Tammy Brown, a Music Row A&R rep, he substituted for Michael McDonald at an outdoor party for Jude Cole hosted by Scott Hendricks. <P><BR>"It was a nervous high, Davidson says, remembering the night he sang My Best Friend and <P><BR>Me" for guests around a blazing fire. "But Scott walked up after I was finished and told me he was going to be heading up a new label, and that when the doors actually opened, to come see him. That was my invitation in." <P><BR>Unconditional is the result. "From the beginning," Davidson says, "this has been completely different to how it usually goes down with a new artist in Nashville. I was not told to bend any. I was just told to be honest and truthful, just try to make something that we could all be proud of." In this case, magically enough, that's just what happened. <BR>---------------------------------------------<BR>Clay on the Album:<P>"Makin Hay"<BR>Marcus Hummon/Jason Sellers<P>My wife and I found that song at our one and only pitch meeting.'Makin' Hay" just jumped out and it was an instant smile. Opening up with the guitars just grabs you. The song concerns always missing something because you're always waiting for the right time, or a different time. But it argues to, grab things while you can. Especially because it was real up-tempo, it lifted me up. It's a good little driving song, good little pep to it. <P>"I Can't Lie To Me"<BR>Clay Davidson/ Kenny Beard/ Casey Beathard<P>That's the squealer song, the one where we just squeal on the guys. We did it with kind of a Skynyrd vibe but a real country vocal. My co-writers and I were thinking about the whole idea of how people put on these big fronts when they break up. Well, the truth is more like this: You can put on your show, and you're fine; you're all smiles. Until you get home, and nobody's around, and then the S comes off and you ain't superman, not any- more. You're just lonely. Even though it was the first time I had written with these guys, it turns out that this song is one of my very favorites on the album.<P>"Unconditional"<BR>Liz Hengber/ Deanna Bryant/ Rivers Rutherford<P>Man, Scott found and played that song for us. It almost made you want to look away from it, in one sense, because unless you pay attention it can be taken the wrong way from the start. That's because 'I hate you," those are strong words, very strong words, and out of context they could just stop the whole show. But as the song goes on, it floors you; it's one of those songs about the kind of love you're always told about when you're growing up, this unconditional thing. No matter if you turn out to be in trouble or whatever, your family's still going to love you. It's one powerful song. In the end, we decided to make this song the title of the CD because we were all so floored by it.<P>"Plain Ol' Pain"<BR>Jimmy Stewart/ Tim Nichols<P>I found this song when I used to work as a demo singer. I've known about it for three years now. It just so hap- pened that I lucked up, when I was able to record my album, and it hadn't been taken. It made me feel that the tune was supposed to be mine. One of the writers told me that it's from a real-life George Jones tale. At one time, after one of his break-ups, he was said to be driving around, just hoping to see the woman in question again and talk to her one more time and he felt like he was going insane. 'I'll just tell you, son' this is what he reportedly said to the writer when asked why he was doing all those crazy things, 'it was just plain ol' pain." <P>"Sometimes"<BR>Clay Davidson/ Kenny Beard/ Casey Beathard<P>I absolutely love ballads. You can just dig in and pull up every emotion you've got; you can just lay into 'em. This one's touching for me; I think it's a real important song to have on the album, because of what it says. It's about reassurance, more than anything, for the one who wakes up and says 'Hey I had a bad dream that you were gone', or 'I lost you.' The song tries to remind you that even though you know you love someone completely, sometimes you still need to say it.<P>"My Best Friend And Me"<BR>Clay Davidson<P>This is one of the main songs that got me my record deal. I wrote it six years ago while I was still in Saltville, Virginia. I was just thinking about how I had been best friends with this same guy since grade school how we had gotten in trouble together, chased girls together, and played music together for years. I leave it pretty open. The song doesn't say whether the relationship continues. Some people have the same best friend forever, while others move on. I want listeners to be able to come up with their own ending to the song. <P>"DogHouse Rights"<BR>Clay Davidson/ Jude Cole<P>That's a song that Jude Cole and I wrote, just a fun thing. Everybody's been in the doghouse one time or anoth- er. It's about a guy who's had a pretty rough way to go. He can't take the doghouse for one more second. He feels like he's done his time; 'Just let me come back in and try this thing again,' that's the tune he's singing now. It's real bluesy, but it's got more of a fun groove to it. It's the big groove on the record. <P>"Come Rain Or Shine"<BR>Clay Davidson/ David Lee/ Johnny Park<P>This is the sort of the gospel song on the album; it's got that vibe to it. It actually describes what my wife and I have been through. We've been through it all. We've weathered storms. I think we've stood strong. <P>"One More Day"<BR>Clay Davidson<P>For me, this song is almost a testimonial to a way of living life and dealing with the things that you go through. When I wrote it I was sitting in a rain in Virginia and just thinking. It was during a rough time in my life. I was thinking 'How am I going to get through this.' Then it came to me: As awful as things seem right now, it's just one more day. So you keep living one more day after another, until you can come out on the other side of your pain. <P>"What Was I Thinking Of"<BR>Chris Farren/ Chuck Jones<P>This was another song that I found singing demos, and it's another one I've had for the three years it's been around. Everybody's been in a situation where maybe somethings slipped by and everybody's asked the question 'Why did I do that?'<P>"We're All Here (cause we ain't all there)"<BR>Clay Davidson/ Frances Davidson/ Mark Marchetti<P>My wife Frances and I wrote this song, with Mark Marchetti. It is not just about a bunch of crazy guys who give up their easy chairs for bar stools. On first listen it may seem that way, but what's really going on here is folks coming to the conclusion that they are pretty nuts-they're sitting in a bar, after all, trying to get therapy from beer. They're not with the people they really love. Parts of their hearts, as well as their minds, are missing. <BR>---------------------------------------------<BR>Clay on Tour:<P>04/26/00 Madison WI To Be Announced <BR>04/27/00 Toledo OH To Be Announced <BR>04/28/00 Louisville KY Coyote's <BR>04/29/00 Charlotte NC Lowe's Motor Speedway <BR>04/30/00 Nashville TN Adelphia Coliseum <BR>05/13/00 Orlando FL Citrus Bowl <BR>05/14/00 Jacksonville FL Alltel Stadium <BR>05/20/00 Cleveland OH Cleveland Browns Stadium <BR>05/21/00 Cincinnati OH Cinergy Field <BR>05/23/00 Bartlett IL Cadillac Ranch <BR>05/26/00 Des Moines IA To Be Announced <BR>06/03/00 Buffalo NY Ralph Wilson Stadium <BR>06/04/00 Landover MD Fed. Ex Field <BR>06/08/00 Kansas City MO Beaumont Club <BR>06/10/00 Irving TX Texas Stadium <BR>06/11/00 Houston TX Enron Field <BR>06/15/00 Nashville TN Fan Fair <BR>06/16/00 Milwaukee WI To Be Announced <BR>06/17/00 Columbus OH To Be Announced <BR>06/22/00 Waynesboro VA Greater Shenandoah <BR>06/30/00 Mollala OR Mollala Buckaroo Rodeo Kickoff <BR>07/14/00 Minneapolis MN To Be Announced <BR>07/28/00 Paducah KY Summer Festival <BR>08/04/00 Fort Wayne IN Ft. Wayne Days <BR>08/05/00 Sutton WV Braxton County Fair <BR>08/10/00 Indianapolis IN To Be Announced <BR>08/12/00 Augusta NJ New Jersey State Fair <BR>08/22/00 Louisville KY Kentucky State Fair <BR>08/25/00 Arendtsville PA South Mountain Fair <BR>08/26/00 Gray TN Appalachian Fair <BR>08/31/00 Youngstown OH To Be Announced <BR>09/01/00 Charleston SC To Be Announced <BR>09/02/00 Lawton OK Fort Sill <BR>09/09/00 Union Grove NC Van Hoy Campground <BR>09/10/00 Allegan MI Allegan County Fair <BR>09/22/00 Bakersfield CA Kern County Fair <BR>09/24/00 Tucson AZ New West <BR>10/13/00 Cumming GA Cumming Country Fair <BR>---------------------------------------------<BR>Listen to Clay at:<BR> <A HREF="http://www.countrycool.com" TARGET=_blank>www.countrycool.com</A> !!<BR>---------------------------------------------<BR>Clay's Official Website:<BR> <A HREF="http://www.claydavidson.com" TARGET=_blank>www.claydavidson.com</A> <BR>---------------------------------------------<P>And that's it for this week's: <BR>Artist Of The Week :D<P>Jason ;)N

Chris Gaines
04-18-2000, 02:45 PM
I forgot to link ya to this :o<P>Here is Clay's CountryCool.com listenfest :)<P>Full video &<BR>5 songs <BR> <A HREF="http://www.countrycool.com/promos/cdavidson" TARGET=_blank>http://www.countrycool.com/promos/cdavidson</A> <P>This guy sounds pretty good... for a "New Guy" on the block ;)<P>JasonN