A Division of The Texas Blues Roadhouse

The Magical Ascent of Blacktop Mojo

I can’t tell you how many times I have been in discussion of music with a ‘boomer’, (no offense, I am just under the line on that demographic myself) when they will unfailingly state something along the lines of “today’s music sucks”, or “rock is dead” or “nobody makes good music anymore”. I often immediately wonder to myself how out-of-touch this person must be, when a band like Blacktop Mojo not only exists, but puts out original music and tours annually, (both as headliner and supporting more well-known acts) with the level of musicianship, flat-out personality and self-deprecating wit that their fans have grown to love and appreciate. It’s hard not to hear them, or see their shows, without coming away wanting more, and counting yourself a lifelong fan.

Matt James

With humble beginnings in Palestine, Texas, they have independently put out three albums to date, the latest one “Under The Sun” debuted at #19 on the Billboard Hard Rock albums Chart and its single, “Can’t Sleep”, landed in Billboard Mainstream Rock Top 40, rising to #27 on the chart.

Philip Mosley produced the album, and it was recorded at Rosewood Studios in Tyler TX. Austin Deptula mixed it, and has done all their mixes since day one. ‘Scott Campbell Design’ out of Alabama did the incredible artwork. Musically, it takes you on a journey of Rock N Roll living, break-ups and make-ups, sinister and spooky at times, (The Lashing-Ghost, Can’t Sleep) sorrowful Blues, (It Won’t Last, The Void) and head-banging, foot stomping, heavy-metal beats (Lay It On Me, Keep). Something for everybody, but cohesive enough to listen all the way through, without getting bored. So very listenable.

They’ve just officially wrapped their national tour in support of ‘Under The Sun’ for now, but have plenty of dates ahead, after they take a much-needed month’s break. They’ll be kicking things off again at Texas Music City Grill & Smokehouse in Lindale, TX on March 29th.

Chuck Wepfer

I asked the guys what stood out for them, in the making of this album, and/or in touring to support it. Drummer, and co-founder Nathan Gillis had this to say. “As far as what stood out making the record – So many of the songs started out with guitar riffs, and I really loved what Kiefer and the guys were coming up with, so much. I wanted to make sure I didn’t get too busy on the drums, but accompany what I considered to be the best guitar riffs we’ve had on a record so far. I honestly felt like I didn’t hardly do anything on this record. It was so easy to just vibe out what they were coming up with. Definitely the least stressed I’ve ever been at doing my part in the writing process.”

Nathan Gillis

They have indeed made Rock fans happy with this album, (and a few ‘boomers’ too) harking back to old classic-rock gems, relying heavily on their signature ‘blues-infused-southern-rock-but-yet-indie-grunge’ sound, that somehow fits together nicely, like whiskey with a chaser of kombucha.

Their shows are lively and loud, with each of the players giving it their all, complete with a lot of onstage antics and wry humor. If it’s your first time seeing them, watch the bass player. Catt Murtis takes ‘performance’ to a whole other level. His stage name came from the need to distinguish one of the two Matts from each other, thus…Matt Curtis became Catt Murtis. Brilliant! What a character, and in action, very ‘cat-like’ actually.

Catt Murtis

Catt had this to say on writing and collaboration among the group: “I would say the biggest difference is just how we have grown together as a family, and a band. We all know how one another works, and we know how to work together, in everything we do. And we’ve all helped each other get better, at what each individual does. And writing together just comes much easier, because of that.”

Their VIDEOS are both moody (Can’t Sleep) and hysterical, and show just how good their sense of humor is, (Come Get Your Coat) while not taking themselves too seriously. They have every right to, considering their level of playing, and seriously good song-smithery going on. Each and every band member could be considered in the top category of their individual musical instrument’s mastery, and most of them have proficiency in more than one instrument.

20200212_blacktop_mojo_0235-2They have indeed made Rock fans happy with this album, (and a few ‘boomers’ too) harking back to old classic-rock gems, relying heavily on their signature ‘blues-infused-southern-rock-but-yet-indie-grunge’ sound, that somehow fits together nicely, like Texas whiskey with a chaser of kombucha.

Picking up new fans are a piece of cake for these guys, as I was witness to, when I caught their show at ‘Encore Tucson’ early in February, 2020. This was the first time the band had been to Tucson AZ, but the crowd was huge, and VERY appreciative. The same scenario has played out all over the country, at many other venues, not surprisingly.

That Voodoo That You Do

…”the growth of the shows has also stood out. We’ve had much bigger turnouts in the last year than we ever have, and it’s amazing to see that happen. Especially some places where, when we played before, we had a handful of people, to now 3 or 4 times as many. It’s amazing to see, and we are so thankful!” – Catt

Co-founder Matt James, lead singer, lyricist and sometime guitar-man said, “This album was the first record we got to make as full time musicians. We got off the road and locked ourselves in our house for 6 months, and worked on it 24/7 until we were ready to track it. We nearly drove ourselves and each other crazy while making it, but we got to make something that we’re very proud to call our own.”

Matt James on Acoustic

Ryan Kiefer, lead guitarist and vocal harmonies guy, had this to say about collaboration with Chuck Wepfer, their newest member. “One thing that stood out to me was how well we all collaborated on this record, compared to the last two. Being that Chuck is the newest to the lineup, it was great having Chuck’s input on different ideas, along with everyone else.” In my own opinion, the guitar licks are getting better with each album, and while ‘Burn The Ships’ had great riffs, this one matches or surpasses it, which isn’t an easy feat.  This is the guitar band you’ve been yearning for. So listenable, without hitting you over the head with endless solos. They show their stuff, and then you are back on the road to the melody. So tasteful, and such capable guitarists, and this band has FOUR. Catt and Matt both play as well. I think that must be the magic to the songwriting. They ALL get it. You don’t have instruments fighting against each other. Everything blends, and blends so darn well, you get to just feel the story and the playing, the way it should be.

Ryan Kiefer

The other pretty consistent thing I hear from fans, old and new, is just what nice guys the band members are. I got that from the first time I met them, and it continues to be a big part of their appeal. Ask some of the folks on their official fan-club page on Facebook – Mojo Nation. In fact, give it a like and follow along on their adventures, if you want.

Article Copyright 2020 – Abby Owen

Photography Copyright 2020 – Katarzyna Cepek Photograpy

Other Media Copyright 2020 – Blacktop Mojo

Featured post

Bluesy Double Entendres

Ah, the blues – a musical genre that perfectly captures the trials and tribulations of life. From heartbreak to hard times, the blues have been making people feel better about feeling bad for over a century. And while the music itself is enough to make anyone tap their toes and nod their head, it’s the lyrics that really make the blues stand out.

You see, the blues are known for their clever use of double entendres – words or phrases that have a second, often sexual, meaning. These innuendos are hidden in plain sight, and it’s up to the listener to catch them. So, if you’re feeling down and in need of a laugh, let’s take a look at some classic examples of blues double entendres.

First up, we have the king of the blues himself – B.B. King. In his song “The Thrill Is Gone,” B.B. sings about the end of a relationship, but he’s not just talking about his broken heart. Take a look at these lyrics:

“The thrill is gone, the thrill is gone away

The thrill is gone, the thrill is gone away

You know you done me wrong, baby

And you’ll be sorry someday”

Sure, on the surface it seems like a sad song about lost love, but when you think about it, there’s a definite sexual undertone to those lines. After all, what else could “the thrill” be referring to? And when B.B. sings “you’ll be sorry someday,” you can’t help but wonder if he’s talking about something a little more…personal.

Next, let’s take a look at the legendary Muddy Waters. In his song “I Can’t Be Satisfied,” Muddy sings about his desire for something he just can’t seem to get enough of. Take a look at these lyrics:

“Well I’m goin’ away to leave, won’t be back no more

Goin’ back down south, child, don’t you want to go?

Woman I’m troubled, I be all worried in mind

Well baby I can never be satisfied, and I just can’t keep from cryin'”

Now, it might seem like Muddy is just singing about wanting to go back home, but when he says “baby I can never be satisfied,” it’s hard not to chuckle. And when he follows it up with “I just can’t keep from cryin’,” well, it’s pretty clear what he’s talking about.

Last but not least, we have the incomparable Etta James. In her song “I Just Want To Make Love To You,” Etta sings about her desire to please her man. Take a look at these lyrics:

“I don’t want you to be no slave

I don’t want you to work all day

But I want you to be true

And I just wanna make love to you”

Now, on the surface it might seem like Etta is just expressing her love for her man, but when she says “I don’t want you to be no slave,” you can’t help but think she’s talking about something a little more…intimate. And when she follows it up with “I just wanna make love to you,” well, there’s no mistaking what she’s after.

Now, let’s dive a little deeper into the world of blues double entendres. While B.B. King, Muddy Waters, and Etta James are certainly some of the most iconic blues musicians of all time, they’re far from the only ones who have used clever innuendos in their lyrics.

For example, take a look at this classic song by Lightnin’ Hopkins called “Black Cat Bone.” In it, he sings about the power of a certain type of bone that can bring him good luck in his love life:

“I believe, I believe my baby’s been using that old black cat bone

You know I believe, I believe my baby’s been using that old black cat bone

Well, you know she walked under a ladder and she broke a looking glass

And it’s just about to make me break my baby’s back”

Now, on the surface, this might seem like a pretty standard blues song – he’s singing about his woman and his bad luck. But when you realize that “black cat bone” is actually a euphemism for a certain part of the male anatomy, the song takes on a whole new meaning. And when he sings about his baby breaking a looking glass and walking under a ladder, it’s pretty clear what kind of bad luck he’s talking about.

Another classic example of a blues double entendre can be found in the song “Shave ‘Em Dry” by Lucille Bogan. This song is famous for its explicit lyrics and its unabashed celebration of sexuality. Take a look at these lines:

“I got nipples on my titties, big as the end of my thumb

I got somethin’ between my legs that’ll make a dead man come

Oh daddy, baby won’t you shave ’em dry?”

Now, it’s pretty clear what she’s talking about here, and it’s not exactly subtle. But what makes this song so unique is the fact that it’s a woman singing about her own sexuality in a way that was unheard of at the time. Lucille Bogan was known for her bawdy lyrics and her unapologetic celebration of her own desires, and “Shave ‘Em Dry” is a perfect example of that.

Of course, not all blues double entendres are quite so explicit. Sometimes, they’re a little more subtle, like in this song by Bo Diddley called “I’m a Man”:

“I’m a man, spelled M-A-N, man

All you pretty women, stand in line

I can make love to you, baby, in an hour’s time

Ain’t that a man?”

On the surface, this might seem like a pretty straightforward song – he’s bragging about his masculinity and his ability to please women. But when you consider the fact that he’s spelling out the word “man,” it’s pretty clear that there’s a little more going on here. And when he sings about being able to make love to a woman in an hour’s time, well, you don’t have to be a genius to figure out what he’s talking about.

It’s worth noting that the use of double entendres in the blues wasn’t just for shock value or to be raunchy. In fact, many of these innuendos were used as a way for African American musicians to express their sexuality and desires in a society that often oppressed them.

During the early 20th century, when the blues was first becoming popular, African Americans faced a great deal of discrimination and prejudice. Many white Americans saw them as second-class citizens and viewed their culture as inferior. This meant that African American musicians had to be careful about what they sang and how they expressed themselves in their music.

Double entendres became a way for blues musicians to talk about sex and desire without being too explicit or offensive to white audiences. By using clever wordplay and innuendo, they could get their message across while still flying under the radar of censors and other authority figures.

But the use of double entendres wasn’t just a way to avoid censorship – it was also a way to connect with audiences on a deeper level. Blues music was often played in juke joints and other venues that catered to African Americans, and these places were often seen as safe spaces where people could be themselves and express themselves freely. By using innuendo and other subtle language, blues musicians could create a sense of camaraderie and shared experience with their listeners.

Of course, not all blues double entendres were created equal. Some were more explicit than others, and some were more cleverly hidden. But regardless of how they were used, these innuendos played an important role in the development of the blues and helped to shape the genre into what it is today.

In addition to the musicians we’ve already mentioned, there are countless other blues artists who have used double entendres in their music. For example, there’s Robert Johnson, who sang about his “sweet jelly roll” in the song “Traveling Riverside Blues.” And then there’s Big Mama Thornton, who famously sang about “Hound Dog” – a song that Elvis Presley would later cover and turn into a pop hit.

So the next time you’re listening to the blues, keep an ear out for those double entendres. They might make you blush, they might make you laugh, but most importantly, they’ll remind you of the ingenuity and creativity of the musicians who pioneered this incredible genre of music.

So there you have it – just a few examples of the clever double entendres that make the blues so much fun to listen to. And while we may never know for sure what these legendary musicians were really singing about, one thing’s for sure – the blues will always have us laughing and nodding our heads along to the beat.

Copyright Abby Owen 2023

Optimizing Your Music For Spotify

by AJO

Spotify is the world’s largest music streaming platform, with over 345 million active users as of 2021. As a musician or music creator, it is essential to optimize your music for Spotify plays. With millions of songs available on the platform, it can be challenging to stand out and gain traction. In this article, we will discuss some tips and tricks for optimizing your music for Spotify plays.

  1. Optimize Your Metadata

Metadata is the information that accompanies your music on Spotify. It includes your song title, artist name, album title, track length, and genre. Ensuring that your metadata is accurate and consistent across all platforms is essential for your music’s discoverability. For example, if your artist name is spelled differently on various platforms, it can be difficult for fans to find your music.

Additionally, make sure to choose the right genre for your music. Spotify uses the genre to suggest your music to listeners who enjoy similar music. Choosing the wrong genre can make it harder for your music to be discovered by the right audience.

  1. Create Playlists

Playlists are a great way to promote your music on Spotify. You can create your own playlists and add your music to them. Additionally, you can reach out to curators who create playlists and ask them to add your music. Curated playlists have a significant impact on Spotify’s algorithms and can boost your visibility.

When creating your playlists, make sure to use descriptive titles that include your artist name and relevant keywords. Also, include a mix of your own music and similar music from other artists. This will help your playlist appeal to a broader audience and keep listeners engaged.

  1. Promote Your Music on Social Media

Social media is a powerful tool for promoting your music on Spotify. You can use social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram to share your music, engage with fans, and drive traffic to your Spotify page.

When promoting your music on social media, make sure to include a link to your Spotify page. Also, use relevant hashtags to help your content reach a broader audience. You can also collaborate with other artists and influencers on social media to expand your reach.

  1. Collaborate with Other Artists

Collaborating with other artists is an effective way to gain exposure on Spotify. You can collaborate with other artists by featuring them on your songs or remixing their music. Additionally, you can reach out to artists in your genre and ask them to collaborate on a playlist.

When collaborating with other artists, make sure to choose artists who have a similar audience to yours. This will ensure that your music reaches the right audience.

  1. Submit Your Music to Spotify Playlists

Submitting your music to Spotify playlists is an effective way to gain exposure on the platform. Spotify has several official playlists that feature new and emerging artists. You can submit your music to these playlists using Spotify for Artists.

To increase your chances of being featured on a Spotify playlist, make sure that your music is of high quality and fits the playlist’s theme. Additionally, promote your music on social media and build a fan base to show Spotify that your music is worth featuring.

  1. Release Music Consistently

Releasing music consistently is essential for building a fan base on Spotify. You should aim to release new music at least once every three months. This will help you stay relevant and increase your visibility on the platform.

When releasing new music, make sure to create a release strategy that includes social media promotion, playlist submission, and collaborations. Also, consider releasing your music on Fridays, which is when Spotify updates its new releases.

In conclusion, optimizing your music for Spotify plays requires a combination of strategy and effort. By optimizing your metadata, creating playlists, promoting your music on social media, collaborating with other artists, submitting your music to Spotify playlists, and releasing music.

Integrity in the Music Business

by Abby Owen


Integrity in the music industry refers to a set of values and principles that guide the behavior of individuals and organizations involved in creating, producing, and distributing music. Integrity encompasses ethical and moral considerations, such as honesty, fairness, and responsibility, as well as professional standards, such as excellence, quality, and transparency. Let’s examine the importance of integrity in the music business and how it affects various aspects of the industry, including artists, producers, label executives, and fans.

One of the most significant aspects of integrity in the music business is the relationship between artists and their audiences. Musicians are often seen as role models, and their actions can have a significant impact on their fans. When artists behave with integrity, they demonstrate that they value their audience and are committed to upholding their trust. This can result in a strong bond between the artist and their fans, which can lead to long-term success. On the other hand, if an artist engages in unethical or dishonest behavior, they risk damaging their reputation and alienating their fans.

The relationship between artists and their producers and label executives is also critical to the integrity of the music business. Producers and label executives play a vital role in helping artists develop and promote their music. They are responsible for making sure that the music is produced to the highest standards and that the artist’s creative vision is respected. To maintain integrity, producers and label executives must be transparent and honest in their dealings with artists. They must also ensure that artists are fairly compensated for their work and that their rights are protected.

Another important aspect of integrity in the music business is the creation and distribution of music. In an industry where piracy and illegal downloading are prevalent, it is essential that music producers and label executives take steps to protect the rights of artists. They must ensure that the music is properly licensed and that the appropriate royalties are paid to the artists. By taking these steps, producers and label executives demonstrate that they value the work of artists and are committed to protecting their rights.

In addition to protecting the rights of artists, producers and label executives must also ensure that the quality of the music is maintained. In an industry that is constantly changing and evolving, it is important to stay up-to-date with the latest technology and techniques. By doing so, producers and label executives can help artists create music that is relevant, innovative, and of the highest quality.

Finally, fans also play a critical role in maintaining the integrity of the music business. By supporting artists who behave ethically and responsibly, fans can encourage other musicians to do the same. Fans can also help to promote the music of artists who are producing high-quality, innovative work. By supporting these artists, fans can help to maintain the integrity of the music business and ensure that it continues to thrive.

Clearly, integrity is essential to the health and success of the music business. By upholding ethical and moral standards, maintaining professional standards, and protecting the rights of artists, producers and label executives can ensure that the music business remains a vibrant and innovative industry. Fans also play a critical role in maintaining the integrity of the music business by supporting artists who behave responsibly and by promoting the music of artists who are producing high-quality work. By working together, all parties involved in the music business can help to maintain the integrity of the industry and ensure that music continues to be a source of inspiration, joy, and connection for generations to come.

Copyrighted by Abby Owen 2023

Blacktop Mojo – ‘Burn The Ships’ CD Review by Abby Owen

To say Blacktop Mojo’s ‘Burn The Ships‘ has something for everyone is too simplistic. Let me elaborate. If you look for good drumming in your Rock music, this is truly bad-ass.  Nathan Gillis delivers spectacularly. If your favorite instrument is guitar, this far surpasses their peers. Ryan Kiefer flows from eloquence to knife-edge licks depending on what the song calls for, with Kenneth Irwin on as a very capable rythym guitarist. If the vocalist-frontman is who you look for as the standout, he is off the charts. Matt James growls out or softly sings the story with perfect pitch and conviction.  If you need to hear a strong bass-line to appreciate the mix, this is outstanding. Matt Curtis is as accomplished a bass player as he is fun to watch. If production is the thing that makes or breaks it for you, you will not be disappointed. This is top of the line. Right down to the album title and the artwork, this one hits it out of the park.15327426_1319681664730824_1293627615574736380_n

‘Where The Wind Blows’, the first radio single, is astonishingly good, and has been picked up by several media outlets. If you’d like to see the YOUTUBE VIDEO, <—(click here) to see what I mean.

The album lyrics are better than anything I’ve heard in a long while. They draw you in and make you feel you are witnessing a man’s struggle to make it in a restrictive and challenging existence. You feel his pain. The themes are sometimes based in classical literature, as in ‘Prodigal’ with the references to the Greek mythology of Icarus and his tragic fall into the sea after the wax in his homemade wings melted from him getting too close to the Sun. Other times it is a basic struggle between what is expected and what an individual has found for himself. “How do I describe the color of the sky when you’ve never been outside?” This is some of the brilliant introspection in the track ‘Shadows On The Wall’. Another is a warning to someone who never seems to learn in ‘Pyromaniac’. Even though the lyrics can be deep and philosophical, they stop short of being too ‘preachy’ and rather give one room to think and examine their own interpretations more easily. Who doesn’t feel the inner rage and Viking pride well up when singing along with the title track ‘Burn The Ships’, ”As you look into your enemies eyes there’s only one choice left …FIGHT OR DIE!!!”

16487300_10208206442986148_1992459204163220453_oAlthough they all contribute to the writing of the music, I cannot stress enough how impressed I am with the lyrics on all these album tracks. So much so, I had to find out who primarily writes the lyrics for the band, and I learned for this album it was mostly Matt James, vocalist and front-man. I’ve met Matt. It was shortly before the album dropped, in a small club in Baytown TX and he was the nicest, most humble guy in the world, and all the more reason I am thrilled to see them getting so much good recognition with this album. He isn’t the only writer, but he really shines on this one.

14600953_1289072831125041_3154020811934348625_nTheir live shows are incredible too; very professional and every bit as sharp and tight as the studio work. It wasn’t all that surprising to see them picked to open for Bon Jovi in early 2017 after winning a video contest, and then playing behind Sammy Hagar at SXSW in Austin shortly after. Right place, right time? …or competent and capable of stepping onto the ‘Big Stage’ with ease? Maybe a little of both. I mustn’t fail to mention their cover of ‘Dream On’ by Aerosmith is…dare I say, almost better than the original. Completely on point and very enjoyable.

Getting back to the production, they spared no expense in getting top notch engineers, production personnel, studios and mixing experts. Philip Mosley produced it along with Jimmy Johnson. Engineers include Steve Melton, Zachary Pancoast, John Gifford III & Spencer Coats. Mixing Engineer was Austin Deptula of Rosewood /Studios. The album was recorded at Sound Emporium Studios in Nashville TN, Fame Studios in Muscle Shoals AL & Audioworx Studios in Palestine TX, a small town they call home in a city of roughly 18.5K people. Palestine is about midway and a little to the right (East) between Dallas and Houston.

To recap, GET THIS ALBUM! It hits all the points without a flaw, and believe me I looked.

Copyright 2017 – Abby Owen

Photos Used by Permission – Copyright 2017 – Blacktop Mojo

Clay Shelburn Interview by Abby Owen

Clay Shelburn at Dosey Doe - Houston TX  10/02/2015
Clay Shelburn at Dosey Doe – Houston TX 10/02/2015

Part Two – In presenting part two of my interview with Clay Shelburn, I want to discuss his new CD, so we will pick up the conversation where I asked about his C.D. Release plans. You can find Part One <—HERE when you click on this link, if you haven’t read it yet.

Can you share details about the label, the studio or the engineers that worked on the new CD with us?, I asked Clay, as we sat down to snack on a sandwich on the evening of Annika Chambers’ 30th Birthday Party at The Big Easy, in Houston TX. Clay’s lovely wife Tiffany was there as well.

IMG_6641“Yeah! We recorded a lot of the rhythm tracks at a place called Playhouse in Wylie. I don’t know. I think it’s kind of semi-private, like you have to know them. My engineer knows the guy, so we were able to use it.” What is your engineer’s name? “Bradley Prakope. He’s really good. He’s got a great ear.” So, you like to use him for your engineering? “I do. Bradley did my first record 5 years ago, and did a fantastic job on this one as well. He used to be in Dallas and is now in Nashville where ‘I Feel a Sin’ was recorded at 1092 studios. 5 years’ worth of all of us honing our respective crafts made MY sound everything I hoped it would be and more! Audio Dallas was another studio we did overdubs in, as well as my producer, Josh Goode’s, private studio.”

'Broke Down & Blue'
‘Broke Down & Blue’

What was the name of that first CD, and how do I get one? “It is called ‘Broke Down & Blue’ <—(LINK), and it’s available on iTunes. The track that performed the best off that was ‘Fullmoonshine’, but people really connected with ‘Little Angel’ too. I didn’t really push anything to radio with a promoter on that CD, but a couple of awesome people Mike Crow and Jim Nash from 106.9 The Ranch spun ‘Fullmoonshine’ for me a bunch of times. 95.9 The Ranch has done it too.

Do you have someone in promotion working on your radio distribution? “I do. I have a guy that has really great connections with radio and promo. He knows what charts and radio stations to contact. He’s connected nationwide. He’s a good family friend as well.”

IMG_7552So far, Clay and Tiffany tell me, they have kept as much of the business workings between just the two of them. Tiffany offers up a piece of advice her dad once told her. “My dad was his own business owner, and he said that you are the only two people you can really trust at the end of the day, because only you have each others best interest, and you have to work through keeping that going.” I’m glad you guys are on that, I say, when Clay adds, “This one here is to business as I am to music. She’s just gifted. It’s so nice to have the honest wife that I’ve always dreamed of. She really is a blessing. I got a complete ‘Mulligan’ with this one.” (laughing) There was a lot more about how they ended up together, as they have quite a long history, but I think it’s safe to say they are both very happy and feel fortunate that their roads intertwined and came to the same destination.

With the release of the new album Clay is set to tour the nation to promote it, and then internationally after that. He tells me he is really big in Brazil! They are also getting things together for a U.K. Tour next Spring, hopefully.

What would you like your fans to know that is important to you? “Honesty is important to me. It’s a big part of my life. I’ve been burned by liars. I don’t like liars and thieves. I try to promote positivity. I like doing things for people without expecting anything back, paying it forward. There’s so much doom and gloom in the world now, I just want to be as positive as I can every day and make somebody smile. That’s really what my goal is. My music. I want to use whatever musical platform I have to spread a positive message.”

‘Defined’ Released November 1, 2015

Review of CD:

(Click on photo for link to purchase.)

The first thing that struck me was the quality of the production. VERY professional sound. “Young Country” seems to be the pervading sound on most of the tracks. I usually review Blues, but this CD actually transcends genre, and is full of good songs, period. ‘A Day At A Time’ is a softer sound than most of the tracks, with smooth backing vocals and a nice message for everyone. ‘Black Widow’, in contrast, is gritty- funky – fun with a darker story. A warning, if you will, about a woman who is up to no good. Not surprisingly, it is my favorite song on the album. That and ‘Dance With Me’, probably the biggest “Hit” if I dare to speculate. It is just so well done, and a great story to be told of a young man’s budding interest in a young woman. The stuff dreams are made of. Very catchy too. Clay’s voice is so right on track in so many ways. He has great pitch, control, and smooth delivery that can crescendo to gut-wrenching drama in the blink of an eye. Again, professional. Soulful. Bluesy. ‘Ever After’ is obviously a tribute to his sweet lady. A thank you for saving him after heavy heartbreak. His electric leads are right on track. Just the right number of notes. Tasteful. He definitely isn’t one of those guys that just wail away forever on his guitar until you wish the song would end. In fact, I found myself wishing the songs would go on longer. He has perfected that ‘leave them wanting more’ element to songwriting that I find very refreshing. There is never a dull moment, or a song that you scratch your head over, wondering why he bothered to put it on the album. They all fit together nicely, and the album is a pleasure to listen to all the way through. ‘Falling For You’ is another great song I could imagine hearing on just about any radio station format. It’s got some nice organ and horns to fill it out too. ‘Flavors of Funkytown’ is a chance for Clay to show his stuff on the guitar. It’s an instrumental foray into a more funk/rock sound, but it never gets old, due to the interesting twists and turns it takes, and the highly capable guitar work. ‘I feel A Sin Coming On’ is another “Hit” for sure. As good as anything I’ve heard on the Country stations. Clay’s songwriting is exceptional. I never hear a line I think should’ve been worded differently. He’s really good at telling a story with just the right verse. Very poetic. Clay’s songs get stuck in my head to where I find myself singing them to myself as I go about my day. Very catchy, so many of them. ‘Livin’ A Lovin’ Lie’ is a soulful-country sound, sparse and haunting with touches of a gospel feeling as well. ‘This Is Me’ has a ‘Soul-twisting Bluesy twang’…as indicated in the lyrics of the song. It goes on to explain that Clay’s sound “ain’t pure country, it’s kinda rocky and a little funky”. I really love the lyrics of this one, and the musicianship is again, accomplished and professional. His guitar work is superb. Another definite “hit”. ‘You Lied’ is another crushing story of heartbreak, easily identified with by anyone who has been unlucky enough to trust the wrong person. Great production, lyric and musicianship. I would venture to say there are, at the very least, four solid hits on the album, and a possible seven. I kid you not. This young man has extraordinary talent in songwriting, playing and singing. A triple-dip of artistry that is so hard to find wrapped up in only one person. Highly unusual, and I highly recommend you get his CD as soon as it becomes available. You will definitely not regret it. ~ Abby Owen, Texas Blues Roadhouse

Copyright 2015 – Abby Owen

Image Copyright 2015 – Abby Owen

Image Copyright 2015 – and by permission – Clay Shelburn

Clay Shelburn Interview by Abby Owen

I’m sitting here at a sandwich shop in Houston, TX, across the street from The Big Easy, H-town’s most well-known Blues joint, talking to Clay and Tiffany Shelburn. View More: is performing in Houston (video) this evening to join a host of surprise guests invited to participate in Miss Annika Chambers’ 30th Birthday Party, being celebrated at The Big Easy(video). I asked him if he wouldn’t mind us chatting a bit for the purpose of giving his many new fans an opportunity to learn more about this sudden internet sensation.

Friday, September 7th, 2015 – The first internet exposure happened when Clay and his new bride decided to marry. They got married this year, February 27th, 2015. They were quite the human interest story around town due to the fact they had an outdoor wedding planned, and the weather decided to step in and give them a ‘White Wedding’, literally. And now, every time I re-read that line, I hear Billy Idol. You can find out all about THAT particular viral event by typing in ‘Clay & Tiffany Shelburn wedding’ into Google for the news segment on YouTube.

The Shelburns
The Shelburns

Who is Clay Shelburn you ask? Have you ever heard of the ‘WalMart Rockstar’? Same guy. But more on that in a moment…

I asked Clay how he knew Annika Chambers, another very good friend of mine, and a girl who is taking the Blues world by storm since hitting the scene in Houston about three years ago.

“I started driving down to Houston on Tuesdays for the Jive Bar jam, after deciding to spread some roots out in other places”, Yeah! Absolutely, I say. That’s where I met you. “Yeah, I met you, James Roosa, Corey Tice…” I say, James Roosa was conducting it at the time. Other friends of mine had conducted it previously, but he was doing it then. “Yeah, James was running it, and Oh man…I fell in love with his drummer Corey Tice. He’s so good!” I know! He’s another really good friend of mine. “He’s so good! And Wes Covington is another really cool dude I enjoyed meeting, and still kind of keep up with.” Oh yeah, I say. He’s on that video I took of you doing ‘Gimme One Reason’ (video) that has done so well on YouTube. He’s got some comments on there too. “He’s good! Brother can play. He’s got soul. I love Wes Covington.”

Clay With Annika
Clay With Annika

“Anyway, they were all telling me about Annika, and actually I came down with a friend a year later to go to the John Mayer concert. It ended kind of early, so I said Hey, Annika’s playing tonight. Let’s go see her. We need to go see this chick. She’s great. So we go there. It was The Big Easy, actually.” Ah, full circle, I say. “Yeah. Full circle. There’s a lot more to the whole story where that’s concerned, but yeah. She didn’t even have her actual album out yet, just some, y’know jewel-case CDs with writing on them. Lol! She gave a big ol’ lipstick smooch kiss on my CD. So that’s the first time I met her.”

“I’ve been keeping up with her, promoting her stuff [unofficially] up in town. [Dallas/Ft Worth] Then she came up with the Paul Ramirez Trio to play Keys Lounge.” Paul is the best! “Oh yeah.” I think Paul Ramirez might be the best guitar player in Houston, I say. When he gets into it he just SMOKES! “Oh yeah. I bought his CD! The way they did it was really smart. Paul and his guys did their set and opened, then they backed Annika and did her thing. It was like an old school band show kind of thing.”

You say you used to come down to play at Blanco’s? [Houston] “I used to come to Houston a lot with a guy named Jamie Richards, who was a Texas country artist. One of the more traditional ones. An incredible song writer.” How old were you back then? You must’ve been just a young’n. “When he found me I was twenty. Maybe twenty-one? I played with him for three years, took a year off and played with Charla Corn, then went back with him for a year. Between those two artists I played a lot of places down here, like the Galveston County fair, I played Blanco’s, I played on the City Hall steps in that big shebang they have there. I’ve gotten to play the Houston Rodeo Cookoff, on the big outside stage, not inside the Reliant Statium. It’s a big two-week-long ordeal. People are SERIOUS about that stuff, man! We used to go down there and they’d hire us for a week-long at this tent, then another week or a couple days at that tent…it was fun. A lot of funny stories around then.” It’ll be nice to see you on the big stage, I say, beaming. …on the inside someday, and I have no doubt. “I’d love to be there one day. I’m shooting for it.”

Now, the thing that got you attention, from the WORLD. The WalMart video. 2015-06-06_162240It went viral. Everyone has seen it. Since that has happened, can you tell us about what kind of new things are happening for you because of it? “Yeah! That video thing was crazy. We shot it two years ago. Zac Stokes and I played a gig together and we were bored afterwards, so we went and watched some movie. I think it was Transformers or Avengers or something.” So, you played a gig together. You weren’t in a band together? He has his own band and you have your own band? “Yeah. We have our own bands, but sometimes we do song swaps. Acoustic song swaps. Or sometimes there are times when Zac needs a bass player and I go play bass for him.” So you’re like, com padres in the music scene up there? “Yeah. Like Zac might call me and say ‘Hey man. I got a show and my P.A.’s broke. Can I borrow yours?’, and I’ll show up and set it up for him, or whatever. We’ve known each other for a while. I think that night I was playing bass for him. So we went to WalMart in Lakeworth and …the rest is history. He started playing this keyboard and I tuned the guitar up and we started playing the song. We didn’t record the first take, and I stopped it in the middle and said, ‘Hey. Why don’t you record this because it’s just stupid? People might laugh at it.’ Never expecting it to go viral. I joke around now and say if I had known it was going to be seen, I’d have sang louder, in full voice, like actually the way I sing. I was trying to not draw attention. So next thing I know BOOM! Four and a half million people have seen it, at least on MY channel, and some of those viral sites have three or four million hits also. It’s crazy.”

Who’s attention has it grabbed that might further your career? Have people contacted you in the music industry? Booking agents? Have things opened up to you because of the attention of that video? Because that is what your new fans want to hear. They’ve seen you singing full voice in other videos, kicking ass. Taking names. Is there anything you can share with us that’s on the horizon? “It’s definitely opened a lot of doors that were slammed shut. Some of the venues that were never calling me back are coming to me now, wanting me to play shows. Venues are calling and offering shows that never would have before.” WalMart reached out to you, right? The WalMart meeting that you played? “Yeah. That was really cool. WalMart flew us out for their Saturday morning meeting and we had a lot of fun doing that.” And you can see that on YouTube as well. “Yep. It’s on YouTube. ‘WalMart Rockstars at WatMart AMP‘…or something. It was a really cool experience.”

“Labels have approached me. I haven’t found the right deal, I guess.” Then we talked a little bit about Clay’s new CD. As of this writing, the CD was just about ready for release, so in the interest of having more details and a link to the album later on, I’m going to stop here and finish in a ‘Part Two’ installment of my interview with Clay Shelburn in a few weeks. Stay tuned!

While we wait for the CD, and ‘Part Two’ of the interview, get ready for a special treat. Clay will be in Houston on October 2nd at Dosey Doe – Big Barn in The Woodlands with his full band. Starting around 7:00, I believe. Come see this great Texas Blues/Rock/Country artist who is also a very approachable and loving young man. (And …have you seen those EYES?!?!)  One of those guys you feel you have known all your life. Ditto with Mrs Shelburn too. Best wishes for a long and happy life together, you two. See you at Dosey Doe!

Copyright 2015 – Abby Owen

Image Copyright 2015 – and by permission – Clay Shelburn

Video Copyright 2015 – Clay Shelburn

Video Copyright 2015 – Abby Owen


Billy Gibbons – Perfectamundo…

Blues Magazine’s article on Billy Gibbons – Perfectamundo, debut solo album from ZZ Top guitarist/vocalist. <—(Click to read on their site.)


The Blues Foundation Selects New President & CEO | The Blues Foundation

New C.E.O. Barbara B. Newman

Click to read the latest news from The Blues Foundation: The Blues Foundation Selects New President & CEO | The Blues Foundation. Board Chairman Paul E. Benjamin added, “She will be a great leader who will help us move forward, taking The Blues Foundation to new heights. We all look forward to working together creating a great team.”

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