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Interview:
Country veteran Clint Black gets maverick in his "old age"
 

By GARY GRAFF
Digital First Media, @GraffonMusic

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Performing solo in an acoustic setting can be constraining for some artists. But country veteran Clint Black is looking forward to spreading himself a little at WYCD's annual Ten Man Jam this week.

"I've done a lot of these over the years, and it's really different," Black, 54, says by phone from his home near Nashville. "The expectations are completely skewed, so you can bring something entirely unusual to the stage. When I'm doing a concert I know the particular hits I would be remiss to leave off, but when you're doing this sort of thing you can just pull things out that maybe you wouldn't play anywhere else and people won't be too upset to hear something really different.

"So I might do my Willie Nelson impression or play my favorite Steely Dan song on acoustic guitar. Who knows? But I feel like I can do just about anything up there."

Rest assured, however, that Black also wants to make a little noise for "On Purpose," which is not only his new album but also his first set of new material in 10 years. It wasn't by design; Black spent most of his career with RCA and them moved to the independent Equity Music Group, but he ultimately wanted more independence as an artist and spent a considerable amount of time looking for a deal that left him mostly to his own devices.

"There was always a lot of pressure on me to record outside songs and just do things differently. They were always asking me to stop being my own songwriter," says Black, a five-time Academy of Country Music Awards winner who was courted by three major labels during the interim between albums before brining his own Black Top Records imprint to the Thirty Tigers consortium. "But To their credit I refused and they let me just go on doing things, but there was always a point of contention.

"So the difference now is I'm with a record company that does not care where I get my songs. They want me to be who I want to be and they'll help me in every way they can. If I ant to be left alone to do my thing, that's what they do. It's a great situation."

"On Purpose" debuted at No. 13 on the Billboard Top Country Albums charts, considerably higher than 2005's "Drinkin' Songs and Other Logic." The Hardest part, Black recalls, was going through all the material he'd worked on during the decade between albums to come up with the 14 mostly high-energy tracks that comprise "On Purpose."

"I had a deadline -- which was good," Black says with a laugh. "I'd been working all along, touring and writing songs for TV shows and some independent films, producing some other artists and working on my own music all along. I had about four albums worth of material in the can, so it was a hard job of figuring out what would make a good album.

"I still did things the same way. The people I had around me, I reached out and said, 'Hey, any thoughts? What do you think? What do you like best?' I was meandering a bit; I had so many choices. I read somewhere that Stephen King has six trusted people that he lets read a manuscript and give him feedback, so it was kind of the same way with this (album)."

WYCD Ten Man Jam with Clint Black, Maddie & Tae, Justin Moore, Granger Smith, Scotty McCreery, Drake White, William Michael Morgan, Ashley Campbell, Ryan Kinder and Dallas Smith

7:30 p.m. Thursday, February 18.

The Fillmore Detroit, 2115 Woodward Ave.

Tickets are being distributed solely by WYCD.

Call 313-961-5451 or visit wycd.cbslocal.com.

Web Site: www.wycd.cbslocal.com

Send your thoughts and comments to Gary Graff

 



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