FEATURED MEMBER: For July, Blues / Rock Musician Cass Clayton
Cass Clayton Band featuring Taylor Scott is the culmination of a songwriting and composing collaboration that led Cass and Taylor into the studio to explore their combined influences of blues, funk, jazz, gospel and rock. The resulting CD (to be released in June) is a rocking new-school soul album with a lot of inventive sounds and unexpected twists. Taylor’s virtuosic guitar playing and composing skills combined with Cass’s lyric writing, smoky 3-octave vocal range, and soulful vocal style have led to music that transcends the limitations of genre and takes you on an instrument-rich storytelling journey.
Cass was recently voted as one of the top three vocalists and top three slide guitar players in Colorado (Colorado Blues Society, Members’ Choice Awards, 2017). She has been lead vocalist and slide player for Hogback Blues Band, 7th Heaven, HERmonious, and currently for CC and the Riders. Taylor is an international touring guitarist/singer/songwriter who has toured throughout the U.S., Canada and Europe with both the Taylor Scott Band and blues legend, Otis Taylor.
Based on the belief that good music doesn’t always fit snugly into a single genre, Cass is taking her blues foundation and stretching to make music that is contemporary and inspires her and hopefully those around her. The result will be a new CD release in June, 2018, along with a gig line-up featuring Taylor Scott. You can find the new album at www.cassclayton.com, iTunes, Spotify and other music outlets.
“I think the audiences now are sophisticated because they have endless access to streaming music. They want great music that is inspiring and I’m not sure they care about genre as much. It’s my hope that people are ok if we can’t call it one thing, like rock-n-roll or blues,” says Cass. “I wanted everything I wrote lyrically for this project to be from deep within me. My early songs were really drawing on ideas about life in general that I thought would be ‘cool’. I didn’t feel safe putting my real self out there. This is more personal, and I feel a bit exposed, but I feel more free too. I don’t want to hide behind lyrics about other people’s lives.
‘When It Comes To My Heart’ was a song I originally wrote as a ballad, but as a producer Taylor immediately heard it as a more upbeat percussive song. There’s an African beat that takes the song to a new place that’s really exciting. I liked the song before, but now it’s really powerful – you feel that heartbeat that drives the message within.”
With regard to how the collaboration came about, Cass says, “Occasionally someone comes into your orbit who adds that creative spark and takes you to the next level creatively. For me, it was Taylor. I hope there will be many more geniuses I run into, but just one is good too. It’s a rare thing when everything just works. I hope I can add to someone else’s artistry as well and make their vision come true as well.”
For the instrumentation on the upcoming CD, Taylor brought in musicians he had worked with over the years who are seasoned session and touring artists. Larry Thompson (Otis Taylor Band) on drums; Todd Smallie on bass (with JJ Grey and Mofro, and formerly with Derek Trucks Band); Jon Wirtz and Tom Amend on Keys, Matt Wilkolak and and Jeff Miguel on horns and many more. Each musician added their own flavor with Taylor composing all of the parts.
“I don’t see this as a departure from what I’ve done so far as a blues singer and slide player, but I do want to evolve and grow as a musician. It wouldn’t be exciting for anyone without walking the high wire a bit!
Whatever is coming up in my consciousness or his that week is what lands on the page. We’re drawing inspiration from past musical influences, but I think it’s really important that the music go someplace new and be uniquely yours. With the song ‘Least A Brother Can Do’, for example, I had a close friend from a long time ago, and she helped me in a terribly down time. I wanted to thank her and say, ‘hey, I’m here for you now too.’ The groove of that song and the way it builds just thrills me. I hope she loves it when she hears it, too.
Working with a producer with the vocabulary that Taylor has is freeing. I can lean back and know he’s going to push the artistic boundaries that might be holding me back. We both hear different things but are committed to letting the music lead us to someplace new.”