Jul 072017
 

So lately I have been doing a LOT of work for other ventures and festivals, and I keep returning to Tumbleweed Festival for interviews with different artists involved. You know I keep saying as time unfolds here in the music world, this festival continuously becomes all the more relevant to Country Music history before the gates even open.

I think just about every one of the artists involved in this event, and the people involved have all been influenced in some way shape or form by the Jennings family. You know It’s become sort of A yawning situation how EVERYONE these days runs around name dropping Waylon, and they really have NO idea anything about him. Right now his daughter in law Miss Kathy is having TONS of legal issues with bootlegger shirts and people using Waylon’s images for MILLIONS of dollars in profit. The whole idea of the Waylon moniker (The Flying W) and the use of it on tattoos and clothing has exploded into a mega bomb of use by fake people that have NO idea of what he TRULY brought to Country Music as a whole.

HOWEVER, there are a majority of us that actually DO look up to Waylon Jennings and HAVE been influenced by him. Many of the people my age (46) have been raised by Waylon Jennings and people like Billy Don Burns ,whom I recently spent time with yesterday at a private party, and he learned this morning about the fact that Country Music Legend Earl Clark suffered a heart attack. As a result of that he passed away last night, and it was posted on the wall of this young man Dustin James Clark. Now folks, this man won one of the contests that Tumbleweed conducted that allowed the fans to vote on the outcome, which resulted in his performance at this festival. I stopped on Monday and spoke with him on the phone about some things that I’ll share with you in just a bit. First let’s touch on what Earl Clark contributed to Country Music and just who this man was and how he embellished the genre that Tumbleweed is praising in a few weeks.

In 1998 Mr. Earl Clark wrote the title song off George Strait’s album “One Step At A Time”, and in this above video Mr. Dustin sings an original called “Take The Comfort Out Of Southern Comfort”. Honestly the song “Neon Row” is one of my favorite B Side songs that mainstream radio didn’t really embrace that George Strait sang. George Strait is probably one of Country Music’s most notable mega stars that choose to not record songs he wrote himself, in order to proliferate the job of songwriter for a living. George Strait was solely responsible for the success of people like Mr. Dean Dillon and Mr. Rich Fagan, and the list went on and on. Additionally Mr. Earl went on to write “I Found Jesus On The Jailhouse Floor” which can be found on the “Honkeytonkville” album from 2003.

Mr. Earl Clark and Mr. Billy Don Burns co wrote the song “When Waylon Came To Nashville” and upon talking more with Mr. Dustin he gave me this interview they did together to share with all of you reading this. You can click HERE and it will take you over to the interview they did together a few years ago in 2011. GO TO SCHOOL AND LEARN THIS! I just listened to this interview TWICE and this is GOOD STUFF.

Both of these two men have been invited to Nashville by the late Ernest Tubb, and it lead to Mr. Earl driving the tour bus for Waylon Jennings in 1975, and he went on to drive buses for Willie Nelson And The Family, and also Mr. Jerry Reed. That lead him to having his songs heard, and it resulted in a LONG string of cuts for him. Tumbleweed is also going to be featuring Waylon’s former steel player Mr. Robbie Turner, but THAT is another story that I’ll be tying into an interview with another Tumbleweed performer.

The story was that Billy Don Burns, Mr. Mack Vickery and Mr. Earl all wrote that song and I found a piece from an autobiography: A few years ago, I was driving back from Johnny Paycheck’s funeral. Mack Vickery and Earl Clark were with me. They were both good friends with Waylon. Mack had written “Cedar Town Georgia” and “The Eagle” for Waylon. Earl used to be his bus driver. I was trying to get my mind off of Johnny dying. Somebody said something about “we’ve lost Waylon and Paycheck, both.” I said, “Let’s write a song about Waylon.” We drove back to an office we had rented at the Spence Manor on 16th Avenue. The three of us wrote “When Waylon Came To Nashville” but it wasn’t quite right. When Mack died, I got the song back out and rewrote the chorus. I played it for Earl and he liked it. Five years ago, I was working some shows with Brigitte London and Waylon’s band. We went into a studio somewhere in Mississippi and recorded it.

In 1993 A Young Man named Tim McGraw used a song Mr. Earl wrote called ‘what She Left Behind” that Tim still performs acoustic at the end of some of his shows, and although he decided to go into the direction of pop country he really did have kind of a Traditional Country start. Another artist that equally had early commercial success with a more Traditional tinge to him was Tracy Lawrence, who recorded Mr. Earl’s song called “Renegades Rebels And Rogues”.

So this brings me to the second portion of this article and the interview I had with Mr. Dustin James Clark.  Here’s what we had to talk on the phone about recently:
GHC:
Why don’t you tell us how you got started playing music and recording your songs yourself?
Mr.Dustin:
I grew up into really, pretty much as far back as I can remember. My uncle had left the area that I’m form, and I guess right around late 70’s early 80’s right before I was born he started driving for Waylon Jennings first.  When I was a little kid he’d come in from being out on the road with Waylon Jennings. He would come to my grandparents house for Christmas and all that, and we sang all those old Country songs around the tree. It was engraved into me so, as the years progressed I think I was thirteen I started writing songs.
I joined a few rock bands like most of us did, and got away from Country roots for a while. As 2007 and 2008 rolled around I started really writing country songs. I came back home from working out of town for quite a few years and I joined a band, and playing in Honky Tonks and it was on from there. Next year it’ll be ten years for me.
GHC:
Who influenced you the most besides Waylon?
Mr. Dustin:
Well Jason Aldean was hitting big back then and honestly I’m a huge Jamey Johnson fan, and when his second album the Black and White album came out, it blew me away. I got it on vinyl and I remember just sitting in the basement and wearing it out. It had such a nostalgic feel compared to everything else coming out at the time. I didn’t see real getting back to the old school Honky Tonk until Jamey Johnson.
GHC:
What do you call your music, is it Outlaw Country? Classify it for me?
Mr. Dustin:
I would consider it more Honky Tonk, a lot of my stuff has a shuffle and Honky Tonk feel to it. If I had to put a label on it I am 90’s Country with a Honky Tonk sound.
GHC:
Tell me more about being on The Voice.
Mr. Dustin:
Yeah, see it was 2013 I tried out for the show here in St. Louis I got a front of the line pass from one of the producers and went up there and kind of went straight in. I went through two processes here and then they sent me out to L.A.  to meet with some of the producers of the show, with some of us people. We did one more round there,  and they picked us to go out and do more auditions.
Everybody told me I should go try out and just to get people off my back I went out there, and turned out the joke was on me and I was out in L.A. and on a stage in front of Blake Shelton. It was really a cool experience you know the show really lives up to it’s name. We never met any of the  but we did a lot of behind the scenes things in L.A. for about two months sequestered in a hotel.
The coolest part about it was the behind the scenes and being in a hotel with a hundred of the most amazing musicians from across the country and really having all kinds of genres just mellowing together. We did all kinds of cool stuff. I made a lot of lifelong friends and good connections through the voice.
GHC:
Let’s talk about Tumbleweed for a while, what are you going to bring us?
Mr. Dustin:
Man, I’m going to bring myself that’s all. I hope that everyone enjoys it as much as I do over the years that I have been doing this.  That’s all I can do, bring myself and my songs and lay them out on the table.
GHC:
I think It’s going to be fun, he’s got Red Dirt going and I don’t consider it Outlaw Country anymore in my opinion I don’t like to label anything that anymore. Most of it’s just more underground, and most of it’s all awesome music . He’s got a little bit of everything.
Mr. Dustin:
That’s right and you know they all try to put labels on it, and I do a lot of stuff  differently. I got Outlaw tattooed on my arm and they think Hey you’re trying to say you are this or that. And I do that to pay homage to my roots, you know Waylon Jennings and all those guys. Really just the fact that anybody doing something other than mainstream music these days whether it’s a little bit of rock or Country…Bluegrass or anything, I kind of do label that Outlaw just because they are going against the grain. Country Music has gotten so far away from it’s past that really anybody that doing anything on their own, that’s really what they’re doing is going against the grain.
GHC:
I cover a wide variety of music I do Bluegrass and Red Dirt and I do Roots Music I’m tied in with Muddy Roots really deeply. I dip into so many different scenes and I have heard your music, but I don’t think I ever met you yet. I’m looking forward to meeting you really.
Mr. Dustin:
It’s a blessing to go through the contest which was a whirlwind in itself and those guys didn’t have to ask us to come out and they did. It’s just been an amazing experience and we cannot wait to get out there and let the whole experience come full circle.
GHC:
I went to another festival in Kansas City, I saw the venue and by God it’s a nice facility. I didn’t see the stage but the area is huge and  he’s on to something. They invited me out and I agreed to work for him because festivals is what I specialize in. This is a science and a market and I enjoy doing it and watching them flourish, and my crew knows what to do and when. I’m looking forward to it.
Mr. Dustin:
I am too, we started a little thing out here and my whole goal is to do what they are doing. I think getting these guys out here in one place a these big festivals is fun. There’s really something special going on  in with what call “Our Movement” right now. That’s from the Red Dirt too  you know anything that has more Traditional root in Country Music. It’s taking off like wildfire and I couldn’t be happier, and what I do is going to pan out there has never been a better time I don’t think.
GHC:
I went from a thousand viewers a day to eight and nine thousand viewers a day just when this stuff boomed. There’s a huge market for this music and people are spending money going to these shows. You know Wade Bowen and them, they don’t get out here as much so when they do I’m there. I started tying more Red Dirt into what I do to bring them over here because there was actually a shortage of it.
Now he’s in such a centralized area geographically that people from Texas and people from my area can get to Kansas City and take part in this. It’s right dead smack in the middle.  All of us we’re all coming towards Kansas City  and trust me it’s an easy city to drive in and I love it, the music scene out there is beyond great.
Mr. Dustin:
The mainstream has alienated good music, hell you can’t call a radio station and ask them to play Waylon…hell half the time you cannot ask for Alan Jackson anymore. It’s all top stuff and that has alienated so many people, and people are starting to look on their own. The older generation is going too Youtube and Spotify and looking for real music, and finding what Tumbleweed is offering.
GHC:
So you just have your one album out right, or is there more?
Mr. Dustin:
Yeah, I did an EP in 2008 it’s decent quality and It’s old but I thought about releasing it as a prequel album. But the Land Of The Free is my first album that I put the most time and money into. We are hoping to get back into the studio real soon. I have got about another forty or fifty songs, and I’d like to get a full album out.
GHC:
Who produced the Land Of The Free?
Mr. Dustin:
The Walker Brothers, in Missouri. I was on the voice with them and I actually gone to look at their studio before the voice even happened. We just ended up in the same place and created a great friendship.
GHC:
Alright Sir well thank you for your time and we will see you at Tumbleweed.
Mr. Dustin:
Thanks as well, and I look forward to playing and forming new friendships.

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