There’s always been something extremely authentic about country/rock singer/songwriter Clayton Bellamy.
Gearing up to release his powerful fourth CD, Bellamy will be participating in the Rural Alberta Ride for Dad between Red Deer and Olds on June 22. He’s also been named ‘Celebrity ride captain’ for the event, which raises funds for prostate cancer research.
Hailing from Bonnyville, the singer/songwriter’s music seamlessly melds 70’s classic rock with today’s storytelling roots music. A love for music was sparked early on.
“By the time I was in my teens I was starting to play in bands. When I reached 15 or 16 years of age, I was on my way.” He later attended Red Deer College in the mid-1990s where he earned a diploma in vocal performance and business.
He released his first CD in 1999.
Bellamy’s new disc, Five Crow Silver, features the blistering current single Goodbye America. Also a member of the platinum-selling band The Road Hammers, Bellamy hosts an array of special guests on the new record including Bobby Keys (The Rolling Stones, The Who, Eric Clapton), Tom Wilson (Blackie and the Rodeo Kings) and Garth Hudson (The Band).
“I never set out thinking that this was going to be a ‘guest’ record but it just kind of happened that way. But I was really blessed to have the talent added to this record – it helped me step outside of my genre. I’m taking a bold new move and this is it.”
It’s been a whirlwind of success since.
He has won over audiences at North America’s most prestigious festivals with his energetic, interactive live performances. With extensive time spent on the college and university circuit, he’s also shared the stage with a host of artists including Three Days Grace, Big Sugar, Cheap Trick, the Dixie Chicks, and Dwight Yoakam.
Eventually, he hit the road with The Road Hammers (Chris Byrne and two time Male Vocalist of the Year Jason McCoy). The guys made their debut on the Canadian sales chart at number one, melding country, southern rock and simmering blues while chronicling the maverick culture of the open road.
His exceptional work with The Road Hammers earned him a Juno for Best Country Recording, four Country Music Awards, and SOCAN songwriter of the Year.
The band is on hiatus right now, and Bellamy is relishing the time to stretch himself creatively. After living in Nashville for about 10 years, he’s recently resettled in Canada.
Meanwhile, embarking on the new project brought an array of creative challenges his way, and was at times, even just a tad intimidating. But the thrill of seeing this collection of tunes take shape vanquished any hint of concern.
“Five Crow Silver was the scariest and most exhilarating record of my career,” he says. “Creatively it pushed me to places I had never gone before in my guitar playing, songwriting, and also in its subject matter. I was also blessed to be able to have so many amazing friends lend their talent to a project that meant so much to me.”
Delving back into making music on a solo basis felt odd at first. “When you’re solo, you can’t have an ‘off’ day. Everyday has to be a good day,” he says with a laugh. “So it took a little getting used to – getting into the groove of finding my voice again. It’s been really awesome. With this record, I’m much more confident and very excited for this new stretching into new territory.”
Recorded at various studios across Canada and the U.S., Bellamy co-produced the disc with veteran producer/writer/mixer Scott Baggett.
“He really knew the kind of vision I was trying to create for the record. He knew how to get my thinking onto a disc. And that was the key. He knew exactly how we had to build it.”
And while the supporting cast is truly stellar, the main emphasis is still on Bellamy’s hard charging vocals and his unflinching autobiographical look at life, love, music and the never-ending quest for redemption and fulfillment.
“Some of the songs I’ve had for a really long time, like Goodbye America, Love Lead the Way and Take Me Back which has been through a number of incarnations,” he said. “Others I wrote fairly recently, such as Victim of My Own Compromise which was a real kind of cornerstone for the record.
“How I was feeling when I made this record was that I wanted it to be uncompromising,” adding that he has felt he let go of some of his spirit on his last record. “Sonically I wanted it to be different so this time I was shooting for something tougher, something edgier. I wanted the contents of the lyrics to be my own – not anybody else’s.
“It’s new and exciting, and it’s not like a regular country record. It’s the move I needed to make for a long time – I feel like this is the way I sound ‘live’. It’s about capturing that lightning in a bottle and putting it down on a record.”
Bellamy has also crafted a suite of songs that draw from all musical genres.
There’s the Stones/Faces swagger of You Could Be Mine, the Celtic rock stomp of Victim Of My Own Compromise and the Neil Young and Crazy Horse white knuckle ride through End Of My Rope.
Ultimately, Bellamy has taken all of these musical touchpoints and melded them into his own cohesive musical vision.
“Meeting new people and being inspired to write songs and tell stories – I love people, and I love to be inspired by them and tell their stories, too. The great thing also about music is that you are never doing the same thing – one day you are writing, the next you are making a record, the next day you are producing someone’s record – it just never gets old.”
For more information about the ‘Rural Ride for Dad’ check out http://www.motorcycleridefordad.org/chapters/rural.