|Clay plays solo set between bands at Antone's in Austin. Photo by Felcia S. Molandes
is a killer songwriter--a killer solo act. I produced and performed with Clay in Memphis. He cares deeply. He digs until he uncovers the truth.”
--Jim Dickinson, prod/
pianist: Ry Cooder, Big Star, Replacements, Bob Dylan, Rolling Stones' Wild Horses
2014: Blind Willie Johnson
Church's 100th Anniversary: (Marlin, Texas) Clay Mitchell represented
Johnson for the service. "Dark Was the Night"
is on the gold record on the Voyager spacecraft.
"MITCHELL’S BIG TIME SOLO PERFORMANCE, VIBRANT TO THE MAX, SHOOK UP THE HOUSE!” --Two River Times, NJ
The Color Purple, Blue Thunder: Mitchell made significant behind the
scenes contributions to work nominated for Academy Awards.
"I admire Clay Mitchell personally and musically. His songs are
excellent. His lyrics strong with economy and emotion. His stage presence terrific. I recommend Clay for his talents
--Van Dyke Parks, prod/ arr/ lyricist: The
Byrds, U2, Little Feat, Beach Boys' Smile
“God used Clay to get my music and my life back on track. He worked with me on the music to
Spielberg's movie, The Color Purple. I asked him to come sing in my church. We've been close for years.”
--Andrae Crouch, 9 Grammy winner, Color Purple & Lion KIng scores, Choir: Michael Jackson's Man in
the Mirror, Madonna's Like a Prayer
“I want to say how much I like Clay's album, Open Cage. He sings great.
The songs are great. The guitar playing and the sound…Hats off !"
--Steve Ripley, prod/ guitarist: Leon Russell,
The Tractors, Bob Dylan’s Shot of Love
"I hear a river running through
Mitchell's music... Bob Dylan was taken with two of Clay's songs. I believed Clay would tour with Bob."
Osbourne, Bob Dylan's Management
Muddy Waters' Big Smile
"Like Keith Richards, I love the Blues, but
I'm no purist. Underneath Punk, Soul, Jazz, Rock is the raw, pure joy of the Blues. The Blues is not about wallowing in
personal pain. The Blues is about staring down the pain--dancing with the pain--defiant joy. I saw Muddy Waters in New York, with his big smile, singing, ‘I’m
a man! That spells M…A…N.’...Tore me up."
Solo Act in Rock Clubs
"I am inspired by dark folk melodies, soul, The Beatles, and Mississippi Delta Blues to write
something new. I do not want to recreate the past.
Those early Blues guys got up at the juke joint with nothing more than an acoustic guitar, sang from the heart, and people
danced! That’s the tradition I carry on. I headlined alone on stage at the Whisky a Go-Go in Hollywood, following three
bands. I played alone between R&B bands at the Village Underground in New York... between bands at Antone's in Austin...
and people kept dancing--to nothing more than me and my acoustic guitar."
Clay is presently showcasing
new songs every Monday night at BD Rileys on 6th Street in Austin... 8:00pm
Elvis & Dad
Mitchell's Dad Nearly Mucks Up Rock'n'Roll History
“In 1955, I was the Pontiac District Manager out of Amarillo, Texas.
Johnson-Connelly Pontiac was our new dealer in Lubbock and was celebrating its Grand Opening. I was authorized to pay $75
for the entertainment. It was my responsibility to see that the money was used for the right kind of entertainment. I was
to send a report back to my Zone Office. I arrived in Lubbock the day before the celebration. Bob Johnson wanted me to interview
some band leader he was eager to hire. They were waiting outside his office. I can’t remember if there were two or three
men. I do recall, I did not approve of the type of music they were going to play. I wanted swing music--like Glen Miller.
I never liked Johnson, but he was our new dealer, so I reluctantly went along.
The second day of the Grand Opening was rainy. We moved the
band into the show room. The music was way too loud. Quinn Connelly agreed, but was not adamant. I called the band leader into
the office for a talk. I was not happy. I wanted to shut down the whole thing. But I finally decided, if Johnson and Connelly were satisfied,
and the customers could take it, so could I. The band leader’s name came up several times, but the name didn’t
mean anything to me. Six months later, Quinn Connelly called me up, ‘Guess what, our noisy band leader has made it big!’…His
name? Elvis Presley.
I’m glad my career depended on car sales, not on my judgment of musical talent. My son, Clay, tells me what a tremendous
influence Elvis had on music in America and I suppose the world. But he still hasn’t influenced me. My favorite music
is still Glen Miller. I didn’t appreciate the Beatles and overreacted to long hair. So I guess I’m consistent.”
Effect on Buddy Holly:
(the same weekend)
Early in 1955, KDAV booked Elvis into the Cotton
Club in Lubbock for $35--out of which he had to pay his sidemen, Scotty Moore and Bill Black. Hipockets Duncan remembers it
like this: “Buddy Holly (a high school senior) was there that night. He went over to talk with Elvis. Later Buddy said
to me, ‘You know, he’s a real nice, friendly fellow’--I guess Buddy was surprised that Elvis was so normal
and would talk to him so easily. Buddy thought of Elvis as a big star. Elvis was enough of a star to be paid to play the grand opening of the local Pontiac dealership the next day. Buddy and his trio played there, too. When the next KDAV Sunday Party rolled around,
Buddy was singing Elvis’s songs.”
--from John Goldrosen’s The Buddy Holly Story