musical icon back on tour

by rick grant
Delbert McClinton has traveled the rugged musical road since 1962, establishing himself as an icon of American music, with his Texas-styled melding of blues, country and funky ol’ soul. Today, he’s considered a legend with a long resume of infl uential music, worldwide tours, hit records and famous live performances. His distinctive voice, harmonica and piano playing made Delbert the quintessential front man, delivering his own songs with passionate soul.
In ’75, Delbert released his solo debut, Victim of Life’s Circumstances, which was followed by a string of hit albums. From this wealth of original material came Delbert’s big hit, ‘Giving It Up for Your Love’ and ‘Sandy Beaches.’
Delbert won one of many Grammys with Bonnie Raitt for their hit ‘Good Man/Good Woman’ duet. Many famous artists covered Delbert’s songs, including Vince Gill, Wynonna, Lee Roy Parnell, Martina McBride, Garth Brooks and Trisha Yearwood.
In recent years, Delbert has released some seminal records, including Nothing Personal and Room to Breathe, and his last studio record, Cost of Living. In 2006, Delbert released Live from Austin, Texas. During his promotional tour that year, I interviewed Delbert about the new album.
Last Tuesday, I called Delbert to get an update on his continuing career and anything new that is happening in his busy life. Of course, I was curious about how the shattered economy has affected him, so I asked him about his thoughts on the latest news. It’s important to note that Delbert maintains a positive attitude and is always engaged in a new project. In other words, he never rests on his laurels. He’s not happy unless he’s moving forward.
“I’m blessed to be working and booking gigs. But when I fi lled up my bus with gas, it cost two grand. Ouch, that hurt. It was hard to get out of town. Yes, I’m in touch with what’s happening, and like you, I’m outraged. But, every day I have a routine. I go into my studio and play the piano and work on new songs. Although I’ve enjoyed a productive and successful career, this is what I do, and I never take it for granted. I work at it every day. In 2006, when we talked, I was out promoting my Live in Austin record. But I’m not one of those artists that has to have a new record to tour. I love to play live and I book gigs whether I have a new album or not.
“However, I am working on a new album. I start recording in January. I have a bunch of new songs and I can’t wait to record them. But to make it real, I have to go out and play live and meet new people. Lately, I’ve been seeing real young kids at my shows, which is great. They come with their grandparents and they seem to enjoy the show. I meet many young musicians who come to see me play live. I love to meet them and talk music.
“Frankly, I’d love to hear young artists or bands that really blow me away. But the stuff I hear from this new generation is disheartening. Those bands that appear on the late night talk shows-Letterman or Jay Leno-leave me cold. Sometimes, I can’t believe what I’m hearing. But I’m optimistic that quality music made by the new generation is out there somewhere, I just haven’t heard it yet.
“Ultimately, I have my music to fall back on in these diffi cult times. In a strange way, it’s a great time to be alive. I’ve been fortunate that the gigs are still out there for me and I look forward to playing live. For me, it’s a balance of touring and recording that keeps my creative juices fl owing.”