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Dakota Sid makes a musical comeback

Submitted photo/Calie BrownDakota Sid Clifford, standing with his Badland Serenaders members, is happily anticipating the new band's possibilities. Sitting, from left to right, are Travers Clifford, Billy Smart and Skip Alan Smith.
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Dakota Sid Clifford has been able to talk nonstop about music, specifically about his own, the past few weeks.

That’s a different story from the last six-plus years when the folk singer-songwriter didn’t say much about his music career. Moving back to Nevada County from Austin, Texas six years ago, Clifford tended to shy away from music conversations focusing on him.

Clifford’s motto of “I’ll call you when I have something to share” has now metamorphosed into spirited conversations initiated entirely by him about possibilities for his three-month-old band, the Badland Serenaders.



“We plan to be at The Palms and other places in Sacramento, we plan to hit the West Coast,” Clifford said last week, before qualifying with a laugh, “This is just big talking, we have no schedule but we will….”

Besides Clifford on lead vocals and rhythm guitar, the band includes his adult son Travers Clifford (who has played with his father since he was in grade school) on dobro, mandolin and guitar; Billy Smart on bass and Skip Alan Smith on drums.




“We’re trying to make this musical thing come together. We rehearse a couple of times a week,” Clifford added. “We’re investing time and money in new equipment in order to make our show proper. I would love to go back on the road but there’s some preparation work like making a new album.”

Clifford, who earned a living traveling in his motor home to festivals and gigs in every state but Alaska and Hawaii for four decades and was named the 1992 SAMMIE “Best Folk Musician and Vocalist” winner in the Sacramento News and Review competition, is even trying new methods to promote his music: hence his first-time-ever Web page (www.dakotasid.com) currently in progress.

“I’m really back. I’m trying hard to do this, to get back and play,” stressed the 57-year-old. Before moving back the first of the year to his Peardale house, Clifford lived in Donner Lake since relocating from Texas and “just went fishing.”

“I always wanted to come back and play but sometimes things aren’t just right; I’m a pretty picky guy. In Truckee, I didn’t have much of a peer group there, I didn’t know anyone and I didn’t try to know anyone,” Clifford explained. “This is where my family is, my peers; we have an incredible music scene here. I’m so stoked to be back into doing it. We’ve all been through a lot of stuff ” you don’t want to hear it ” a lot of personal stuff.”

While words about Badland Serenaders’ future comes easily to the musician, Clifford can’t pinpoint the steps leading up to his band formation three months ago.

“I don’t know why, I got a change of heart, time changes a lot of things, I’m older, I’m not afraid. I’m confident in our stuff,” Clifford observed. “It’s a new me in a way.”

Does he feel wiser and more mature these days?

“Totally. I’m not the old curmudgeon I used to be. I’m more spiritual and open-minded, I’m more tolerant than I used to be.”

As for his sound these days ” expect to hear highly arranged songs featuring four-part harmony.

Or as Clifford good-naturedly admits, “We’re getting slick. We do much more in a professional manner, the boys don’t let me slack off….I could slack off, I’m a half-drunken folk singer but we’re more professional; we’re getting to be more competitive in the music world.”

With nine recordings released during the last 30-plus years, Clifford already has a vast repertoire of country blues originals, many about nature and the environment.

For the album in progress, “Quietly Raging,” Clifford will include new originals, which are geared on life experiences.

“There are songs about family, emotions, stuff, life. It’s about turning inward. I’m pretty oriented toward my own little trip, my home, my family, my farm and my music,” Clifford added. “Music is everything. Music is coming back. I told you I’d call when I felt I was coming back.”


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