Here’s my Davenport Cleaners Halftime Show interview with three-time Grammy Award-winning performer Delbert McClinton. The singer-songwriter recently released his latest album, Tall, Dark, & Handsome. Delbert wrote or co-wrote every track on the album, which features his band, Self-Made Men + Dana.
During the interview, we discuss his creative process, the royalties he receives from when he played the harmonica on the classic 1961 tune, “Hey! Baby” (performed by Bruce Channel and featured prominently in the 1987 film, “Dirty Dancing”), how never throws anything away, and his authorized biography, ONE OF THE FORTUNATE FEW by Diana Finlay Hendricks.
From Delbert’s website:
“Roots music visionary” (Rolling Stone) Delbert McClinton returns with a swaggering and swingin’ new album, Tall, Dark & Handsome, via Hot Shot Records/Thirty Tigers. Featuring 14 new, original new songs – all written or co-written by Delbert the album dives deep into the blues, Americana and beyond, bursting with horns, fiddle, accordion, blazing guitar work, back-up singers and McClinton’s charismatic rasp, proving Lyle Lovett’s claim that “if we could all sing like we want to, we’d all sound like Delbert McClinton.”
Tall, Dark & Handsome features Delbert’s band the Self-Made Men + Dana: Dana Robbins (saxophone), Jack Bruno (drums), Mike Joyce (bass), Bob Britt (guitar), James Pennebaker (guitar), Kevin McKendree (keyboards), Quentin Ware (trumpet), Dennis Wage (keyboards).
It’s evident from the first downbeat that McClinton and company had a blast making the record, shining a raucous light on the swinging, jazzy virtues of Texas blues. Opener “Mr. Smith” is a joyous shuffle. “If I Hock My Guitar” is sly and self-deprecating, the story of a down n’ out axe-man who weighs his craft with a visit to the pawn shop.
The album hurtles forward with a red hot energy, with only a couple cool breaths along the way, like on “Any Other Way,” a ballad that starts with “Just another lovely day / a low-flying angel got in my way.”
McClinton has three GRAMMY Awards, and his previous three albums have all reached # 1 or #2 on Billboard’s Blues chart. With over 60 years of recording and touring to his credit, McClinton is a true musical zelig: he toured with the Beatles, backed Bo Diddley and Howlin’ Wolf, helped to inspire The Blues Brothers, and performed everywhere from SNL to Austin City Limits (both multiple times) along the way. His songs have been covered by Buddy Guy, Bonnie Raitt, Garth Brooks, Vince Gill, Waylon Jennings, and Wynonna Judd – to name a few.
This “Godfather of Americana” (Rolling Stone) will keep on rolling in 2019, with a full slate of tour dates through year’s end and beyond.