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      William Clark Green in Tulsa

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      December 20, 2019

      Friday   8:30 PM

      423 North Main Street
      Tulsa, Oklahoma 74103

      William Clark Green

      with Chris Colston
      William Clark Green Is not one for pulling punches. Where some songwriters trade in subtlety and dancing around blunt truths with clever feints and metaphor, Clark aims his words straight to the point and, when needed, right through the heart. His music is unrelentingly direct and hard-hitting, too, charged with a palpable rock n roll immediacy thats as evident in his most intimate solo acoustic performances as it is in the full-tilt band shows that have packed rooms across his native Lone Star State from the Blue Light in Lubbock to the worlds biggest honkytonk, Billy Bobs Texas in Fort Worth. And with the April 21st release of Ringling Road, his eagerly awaited fourth album, Green is set to make his biggest impact on the booming Texas/Red Dirt music scene and beyond yet.But just dont call him the Next Big Thing, because as Green makes patently clear on Ringling Roads riotously myth-busting opening track, thats a laugh, buddy. And even with tongue firmly in cheek, William Clark Green is only interested in being real.Oh its hard to pay your dues when there aint no money in the bankIts a shame I gotta make it to the show but there aint no gas in the tankIts insane what you do for a broken heart and some busted stringsAnd everybody saying Im the next big thing!Im actually a little nervous about what people are going to think of that song, and if theyll think Im being an asshole, Clark admits with a laugh. And thats not the case at all, because its actually sarcastic as hell. But weve been hearing that youre the next big thing thing for a long time now and Im guilty of saying the same to some of my songwriter friends who are struggling out there, too. And even though its always meant in a nice way, you cant help but think, What? I have no idea what youre talking about. Im actually sleeping in my truck tonight!Not that hes complaining. Green is nothing if not fully committed to his chosen path. Granted, had a few chips fallen a little differently, he could have just as easily and happily devoted his life to ranching, but fate dictated pretty early on that he was meant to be a troubadour. He may have started taking guitar lessons at 13 primarily out of boredom his family had just moved from Flint, Texas to College Station in the summer, and he didnt have any new school friends yet but it wasnt long before he developed a keen interest in songwriting. A healthy obsession with his fathers copy of Willis Alan Ramsays classic 1972 debut had a lot to do with that (Thats still the best album Ive ever heard, and the reason I use three names, Green enthuses). So did timing: I remember seeing Robert Earl Keen and Pat Green and even Jerry Jeff Walker at the Wolf Pen Creek Amphitheater in College Station when I was in high school, he says. The scene was really kind of in its birth then, and I was right there in the middle, paying attention and really intrigued by all of it.College originally wasnt part of his game plan I was a very poor student, and I still wanted to be a cowboy but after a lead on a ranch-hand job fell through and a miserable two-week stint at a feed lot scared him straight, Green enrolled in junior college and eventually found his way to Texas Tech. He majored in agriculture economics, but spent more time songwriting and playing guitar at every open-mic night and hotel bar gig he could find than actually studying. By the time fellow Red Raider and Texas country rising star Josh Abbott handed him the keys to his Tuesday-night residency at the Blue Light, Green and his own band were on their way.Thats when things got really serious for me, Green recalls. I came out with my first record [2008s Dangerous Man], and it kind of got to the point where I knew if I was going to pursue music, Id have to give it everything I had, because theres just no room for half-assing it in this business. School went to the wayside I ended up graduating, but it took six years because music was my priority. And here I am now at 28 about to release our fourth album and hoping to get to five before Im 30. Thatll be a pretty quick turn around, but thats the goal.The aforementioned next big thing rumors started up in the wake of his second album, 2010s Misunderstood, but it was 2013s Rose Queen that proved his real breakthrough. Green recorded the album, produced by Rachel Loy in Nashville, at a real crossroads in his career with momentum and high expectations at his back but barely enough money in the bank to foot the bill (and that only after a desperate call for help to angel investor Wade Bowen saved the day). It was a huge leap of faith, Green says today, but I told the band, Were going to pull out all the stops, and were going to find a way to make exactly the record we want to make and need to make. The end result was a triumph, yielding Greens first three top-10 Texas Radio hits, including two chart-toppers in She Likes the Beatles and Hanging Around (the former also won Song of the Year honors at the fan-voted Lone Star Music Awards).Of course, all of that set the bar even higher for the follow-up and Ringling Road delivers in spades. Returning to Nashville to team once again with Loy (Green calls working with the gifted up-and-coming producer the best decision Ive ever made in my musical career), the band overcame a a couple of early setbacks longtime drummer Jay Saldana had recently left for a new gig with Wade Bowen, followed by guitarist Steve Marcus breaking his arm a week before they went into the studio to come through like champs under pressure. Saldana ended up coming back as a guest to drum on most of the record (along with new band member Ryan Garza), while the lead guitars duties were initially shared between Nashville session vet Kenny Greenberg and band friend Josh Serrato, recruited out of fellow Texas band Six Market Boulevard for what originally supposed to be fill-in duty. By the time Marcus arm healed up enough for him to join the sessions halfway through, though, Serrato had been promoted from temp to full-time band member. Greenberg ended up staying on for the rest of the record as well.All three of those guys are monster talents on guitar, so It was a really incredible experience to have them all working with each other in the studio, Green marvels. It all just happened the way it was supposed to, and we werent going to get in the way of that!With that formidable triple-guitar threat augmented by Green on acoustic, seasoned band member Cameron Moreland on bass and key assists from Loy and others on background vocals and a few other instrumental tracks, its no wonder that Ringling Road boasts the fullest sound of any WCG album to date. But as has been the case since day one of Greens career, its the quality of his songs that ultimately makes the boldest statement. And its not just the flatout rockers (Next Big Thing) and irresistibly catchy, up-tempo numbers (Sticks and Stones, Creek Dont Rise, Going Home) that hit hard, either. Other highlights include Old Fashioned, a stirring elegy for a bygone Texas (The interstates pumping just like a vein full of California license plates), and the uproarious, Todd Snider-worthy title track, which takes its name from a real road in Greens current hometown of Eastland, Texas. Back in the day, the Ringling Bros. Circus used Eastland as a regular resting stop between shows, where the elephants and other animals were let off the train for a drink and the myriad circus folk would unwind and do whatever circus folk usually do on their nights off. As colorfully imagined by Green and co-writers Ross Cooper and Randal Clay, that was a helluva lot more wild and entertaining than the actual ticketed performances.Ross is a good friend of mine from Lubbock, and Randal is a guy he met in Nashville who was actually a roustabout for 10 years, Green explains. I mean, what better way to write a song about the circus than to write it with a guy like that? Randal brought in a lot of truths about what really does happen behind the scenes in the circus. To be honest, after I told them about Eastland and the history of Ringling Road, he and Ross just got going on this tangent that was so good, I kind of just sat back and was like, keep going!Ringling Road, the song, may be a freak-show blast, but the rest of the album is hardly all fun and circus games. Final This Time is a devastatingly frank post-mortem of a divorce Green witnessed between two close friends. Fool Me Once and Hey Sarah, two of the three songs (along with Sticks and Stones) that Green wrote solo, are unflinching accounts of his own firsthand experiences at bad (or at least uncertain) love. And the lead single Sympathy (already a No. 1 on Texas radio) offers anything but sympathy to a former lover looking for a shoulder to cry on.Most brutal of all, though, is the hauntingly plaintive Still Think About You, in which the kind of sympathy Green does offer an ex comes laced with painfully bitter honesty: Sorry that you fell in love with someone you could never inspire You know, its not that Im an asshole, Green says again, laughing. But I feel like everybody has those selfish feelings sometimes, but theyre never said in songs. I actually showed that song I had the chorus written but still needed the verses to Randy Rogers and Sean McConnell, and they both went, oh, thats not my style. And I thought, Well, maybe this is a terrible idea Before giving up on it, though, Green showed it to one other trusted friend: Kent Finlay, songwriters songwriter, founder of the legendary Cheatham Street Warehouse in San Marcos, Texas, and, not for nothing, Greens co-writer on Rose Queens hit single Hanging Around. Sage soul that he was, Finlay who sadly passed away on March 2, 2015 after a long illness took a shine to the unfinished song at first pitch.I took it to Kent and said, Ive got this song, and no one seems to like it, Green recalls. But I played what I had for him, and he went, Oh, I like that! And I was like, Thank God, finally somebody does! So we ended up finishing it together, and Im really glad we did.Taking uncomfortable feelings like that and putting them to paper and writing songs about them thats kind of been my staple, really, Green continues. And that song is about as true as it gets.He pauses on that thought for a moment. Now, I dont know if thats a good thing or a bad thing, he adds with a laugh, but I guess the truth prevails! And that makes me able to sleep at night.

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