Singer/songwriter/humorist/bandleader/author Antsy McClain returns to The Center for the Arts in Grass Valley for a pre-New Year’s Eve gathering of the clan. It’s been a busy year for Antsy, who’s released a new CD, “Living the Dream,” along with his third memoir, “Resisting Enlightenment in 12 Easy Steps.”
“The New Year’s Eve Eve concert will feature some songs from the new CD, and there will also be a Trailer Park Beauty Queen contest with prizes. I will be wearing no socks,” McClain said.
Sharing his mantra of “enjoy the ride,” McClain has won friendship and collaboration with some of the most talented musicians in the world. With such a wide circle of mentors like Waylon Jennings, Tommy Smothers, guitar legend Tommy Emmanuel and cowboy poet Baxter Black, it’s no wonder McClain marches to the beat of a different drum. And his influences don’t stop there. His live shows touch upon country, rockabilly, jazz, swing and a number of pop culture references.
McClain’s poetry, heartfelt ballads and humorous tales have garnered praise from such artists as Guy Clark, Willie Nelson, Lindsay Buckingham and David Wilcox, to name a few.
After a Nashville record deal proved unfruitful in 1999, McClain took the reins himself and blazed one of the industry’s first fiercely independent campaigns, producing some of Americana’s most innovative projects and cleverly relying on fan involvement (they call themselves Flamingoheads) to finance each album and help promote live shows and events.
Before music found him, Antsy was an award-winning illustrator and designer for book and magazine publishers. As the DIY movement took hold, McClain was one of the first artists of note not only to record, mix and produce his own albums but to serve as art director and designer for everything involving his music career — from CD package design to website design to merchandise. The band’s T-shirts are looked at as one-of-a-kind boutique item originals, often signed and numbered when sold.
When accused of being a control freak, McClain flashes a guilty look but dissuades the dig by saying, “I’ve always just tried to save myself money. I was a self-employed guy with five kids. We had an agreement that my wife was to be home while they were young, and it worked out great. But I didn’t have a thousand dollars to pay somebody for a logo. If I was going to have one, I’d have to do it.”
Calling himself “a life enthusiast,” McClain is eager to see what’s around every corner and watches the horizon intently for each new change that takes place.
“My life is my art,” Antsy said. “I am painting my life one day at a time, one brush stroke at a time. As I spend time with my wife and children or as I go on the road toward new places to make new friends, as I write a new song, as I draw or paint something for people to look at and enjoy … This is my life, and I’m grateful to have the opportunity to share it with music, with words and with pictures.”