Bullet Backstory Featuring Jay Clark

The WDVX Blue Plate Special is going on the road this winter due to remodeling at our Knoxville Visitor Center location. Our next Blue Plate Special Road Show is Friday, February 17th with Pistol Creek Catch of the Day along with Jay Clark & The Tennessee Tree Beavers from Clayton Center for The Arts in Maryville. It’s at noon, it’s free, it’s the really special Blue Plate Special Road Show at the Clayton Center for The Arts. Catch the broadcast or webcast at wdvx.com.

In the meantime, enjoy this Bullet Backstory from Jay Clark. He was gracious enough to answer our questions for this regular feature on the WDVX blog.

Take it away Jay!

  • Biggest musical influences? John Prine, Gillian Welch, Darrell Scott, Kris Kristofferson, Merle Haggard, George Jones, my Uncle Jerry
  • What made you decide to pursue music as a career? I have always played in bands and wrote songs since I was 16. However, I went to college for 11.5 years, got a PhD in Wildlife Ecology, & pretty much looked at music and songwriting as a hobby. That is, until my wife, Stacy (also has a PhD but in Forestry), beat me to a full-time research position! If your are married to someone in our field (i.e., natural resource management), it is really difficult for both spouses to end up in the “job of their dreams”. So, we agreed that whoever got the job as close to East TN as possible, the other would fend for themselves. Luckily, we ended up in Knoxville, she got the job of her dreams, & I started recording records & touring. Although I don’t tour like I did for the last 12 years or so, I am still going to do music to some extent for the rest of my life… have to!
  • What advice do you have for young musicians who are trying to hone their craft? Write what you know! It is too easy to stray from that, especially given what folks hear on mainstream radio. However, my motto has always been, “If I can’t sell a song to myself, then how the hell can I touch someone else with it?”
  • What’s your favorite thing to do in Knoxville? I am kind of a home body. However, going to live shows, usually sponsored by WDVX, gets me out of Blount County. So does UT football!
  • If you could work with any musician (living or deceased) who would it be and why? Well, that is a hard one. It is easy to say any of the influences listed above. However, I would have to say some of the old mountain folk singers that were active across southern Appalachia during the labor movements associated with the coal mines in the 60s & 70s. I have a lot of that ordeal in my family history & would have loved to have shared the bill and stage with some of those folks that used their music for a cause. However, that kind of music is very much still alive today, you just have to look for it!
  • Anything else you would like to share? Favorite WDVX memory, etc? One of my favorite WDVX memories is when I played the Blue Plate Special dressed as Elvis in 2008. It was a bet I made with Tony Lawson. He lost & had to dress up as Red Hickey!