Delbert McClinton has two gifts that have served him well. He’s got a one in a million voice. It’s thunder and whiskey and leather and silk. It’s instantly recognizable. It’s innate and inimitable. Delbert’s other gift is a lifelong stubborn refusal to lend that voice to anything he doesn’t love, and he’s got really top drawer taste. He has released nothing for the sake of a short term hit and thus nothing that he needs to apologize for. Over 50 years.
Delbert’s the subject of a new biography, One of the Fortunate Few, which came out late last year. It’s by established Texas-based music writer Diana Finlay Hendricks. It’s a great read and it was great preparation to talk about coming of age in Ft Worth TX, lighting out for California on a whim and chasing dreams across the country living out of a bus for years. He helped establish a beach head for roots music in New York in the 70s and inspired the Blues Brothers band. He then settled in Nashville where his songwriting took new leaps forward and he made the best recordings of his career for New West Records.
Also, a conversation with John Strohm, the new president of Rounder Records and Sugar Hill Records, two legendary roots labels that are now part of the very large but musically-focused Concord Music group.