with openers With G.Miles and the Hitmen
Friday May 10, 2013
Madison Theater, 730 Madison Ave, Covington, KY
7:30 pm doors, 8:30 pm show, $30 adv, $35 dos
Three-time Grammy winner Delbert McClinton’s 28th album Blind, Crippled and Crazy, set for release on June 18 on New West Records, blends R&B, country, blues and rock ’n’ roll with humor, heart and roadhouse virtuosity. The disc also reunites McClinton with his longtime friend and musical running partner Glen Clark, making these 12 songs the first time the seminal roots music duo Delbert & Glen have recorded since 1973.
“We’ve always had an amazing rapport as musicians and friends, but we’ve been off living our own lives,” McClinton explains. “For the last decade Glen and me have been talking about doing another album, and everything fell into place last year here in Nashville with my songwriting partner Gary Nicholson.”
Besides co-writing several tracks, Nicholson co-produced the LP with McClinton and Clark and played guitar alongside drummer Tom Hambridge, fellow six-stringer Bob Britt, keyboardists Kevin McKendree and Bruce Katz, and other members of McClinton’s touring band as well as blues guitar hero Anson Funderburgh, who guests on “Oughta Know,” a hot-licks fest penned by McClinton’s son Clay.
Blind, Crippled And Crazy’s opening Texas shuffle “Been Around a Long Time” sets a reverberating tone of self-deprecating humor, as does the album’s title.
“We’re a couple guys who started playing together in ragtag bands around Fort Worth in the ’60s,” Clark relates, “so we like to poke some fun at ourselves for being older now.”
Clark picked up the tune’s tag line many years ago from a feisty 102-year-old woman in Arkansas, who told him, “Sonny, I ain’t old. I’ve just been around a long time,” and the song finally emerged during the disc’s 2011 writing sessions.
The loping and textured “More and More, Less and Less” resonates similarly as it dismisses the excesses of youth, although its acoustic guitar bedrock and the yearning timbre of McClinton’s vocal performance and his haunting harmonica solo add poignancy, too.
“The bottom line is that we’re still bulldogs on a pork chop, but our teeth are ground down, so it takes longer to chew that thing up,” Clark says, chuckling a bit. “But we still get it right down to the bone.”
That also explains the amount of sheer growl in Blind, Crippled And Crazy’s grooves. “World of Hurt” is a snarling six-string rocker about biting heartbreak, and “Good as I Feel Today” rings like a great lost Little Feat number — although McClinton and Clark come by its drawling melody, swaggering rhythm and buttery slide guitar via their own assimilation of R&B, blues, country and nascent rock in the 1950s and early ’60s.
They were schooled by the sounds of Ray Charles, Charles Brown, Little Richard, Bob Wills, Elvis Presley and Hank Williams courtesy of the radio and their siblings’ record collections. Then they graduated to playing the roadhouses of their native Texas.
Musical mutual admiration rapidly followed. “Delbert was the first great singer I ever saw in person, so he’s always been one of my biggest influences,” Clark relates. In turn, McClinton testifies that “Glen is one of the few people I can really duet with. Our phrasing just compliments each other, and our voices sound great together. I have more fun singing with Glen than anybody else.”
“The bottom line is, at this point I don’t believe in doing anything that’s not fun,” McClinton says, “and recordingBlind, Crippled And Crazy was a blast. Me and Gary, who I’ve known for 40 years starting back in Texas, handpicked every musician on the record and made sure every song was perfect. The title, from the old soul tune, is something I’ve wanted to use for years. And singing with Glen again — between the way our voices mix and his sense of humor — makes me excited about us taking this music out on the road together.
“I’ve got a good deal in life,” McClinton continues. “I’ve got a lot of good people for fans who support me — although I’ve won over each of them one-by-one on the road. I can pick and choose whatever I want to do. And I’ve never had to keep a job for long, thank God, because jobs stink. I know. I’ve had a lot of them, and I know why I got fired from every one. And believe me, making this album and singing these songs with Glen is nothing like a job.”