Country musical artist Clay Walker knows SW La. well

Published 11:04 am Friday, September 3, 2021

Clay Walker said he’s ready to “whip and ride” after a year and a-half of cancelled concerts due to the pandemic. The unapologetically country music artist takes the stage at 8 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 11 at the Golden Nugget Grand Event Center in Lake Charles. Expect top hits such as “This Woman and This Man,” “Live Until I Die,” “If I Could Make a Living Out of Loving You,” and songs from the recently released album “Texas to Tennessee,” including “Sometimes You Need a Bar.”

One critic blasted the new album for being “more country than anything else.” (Clearly a critic grew up on a blacktop street. Walker did not. And reminds fans in song and spirit.)

Walker spoke to the American Press from Salem Oregon, where he was performing his sixth concert in a row after five California stops. Next stop was Montana. When he finally makes it to Lake Charles, he won’t be far from home, at least his Texas roots, and plans to make time to spend with family.

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“My mom still lives in Vidor and I have a sister in Lake Charles, my baby sister. I looked after her and I still do,” he says with a chuckle just like any older brother trying to get under his sister’s skin. “I remind her as often as I can that I’m mom’s favorite.”

The “Texas to Tennessee” album title hints at Walker’s ability to feel at home just about anywhere, but especially in Tennessee, his home now and Texas, the place he said “shaped his life and career.” He said Southwest Louisiana is a lot like East Texas. Most fans know Walker was discovered in a Beaumont bar.

“I went to my first concerts at the Lake Charles Civic Center in the ‘80s, Alabama and ZZ Top,” he said.

He considers himself a traditionalist, calling Merle Haggard the greatest.

“George Strait stood on the shoulders of men like Merle Haggard, Conway Twitty and Willie Nelson,” Walker said. “I got to stand on the shoulders of George Strait.”

However, don’t peg him as a wannabe.  People Magazine calls him a country music trailblazer. He prefers the microevolution of country music, zeroing in on what makes country, country. Walker brings his own unique abilities to the table, including that butter-melting-over-a-hot-biscuit Clay Walker voice.

“I’ve been taking voice lessons,” as well as guitar and piano lessons,” he said.

Walker credits his loyal fans and the creative talent behind “Texas to Tennessee,” including producer Michael Knox who helped make it possible for the Walker – maker of 6 number one hit singles, 31 songs on the Billboard charts, four platinum albums and two gold albums – to once again achieve something significant with this latest album.

Walker knows his audience, especially his Lake Charles and East Texas fans, many of which will be at the Golden Nugget to hear him on 9/11. He knows what the residents of Southwest Louisiana and East Texas have been going through and are continuing to go through. His mother and a first cousin lost homes due to Harvey flooding. His sister in Lake Charles is still fighting with her insurance company about her Hurricane Laura claim.

“I never heard my mama complain one time,” Walker said, “and my sister, she’s definitely a scrapper.

It wasn’t easy for Walker to get much time in the only bathroom growing up with four sisters.

 “I only needed a few seconds to listen to two songs,” he said. “More Than a Feeling,” and “New Orleans Lady.” As I headed out the door for school, I played the last song in my morning trilogy, “Sweet Home Alabama.”

He is father to six. Two daughters are from a previous marriage. A new addition for the latest to be born will ensure his children can take time to listen to their favorites as they get ready for school. Nevertheless, he assures his audience that he has not forgotten where he came from.

“We’re real people with real problems and real love,” he said.

Walker was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis at the age of 26. It’s a comorbidity and he has been vaccinated, but hates how politicized the vaccine has become. He also takes zinc and Vitamin D, saying that most are Vitamin D deficient. He feels responsible for protecting the more vulnerable to the disease in his life and audience, especially the elderly.

 I’m not staying away though.” he said. “I want to get on with my life. That’s who I am.”