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Write on Time

Over the course of five albums, a growing legion of fans have gravitated to William Clark Green's songwriting and the band's empathetic arrangements.

Article
G.K. Hizer
Photos
Courtesy
Posted
November 28, 2019

Blowing up on the Texas country scene can be a double-edged sword. On the one hand, the audience grows by leaps and bounds, a loyal group that expects a high-energy, raucous party of a show. On the other, an artist’s songwriting can be overshadowed by the party-like atmosphere. Sure, a song or two will stand out, usually in part as jumping out with a big hook as an audience favorite. When you dig deeper into the catalog, however, you will occasionally find an amazing storyteller and some great compositions that deserve recognition well beyond a reputation as a glorified redneck party band.

When you catch William Clark Green, who is quickly rising to the top tier of Texas country acts, the show is high-energy. When you listen to the records and dig into the songs, though, you’ll find that Green is an outstanding songwriter and storyteller.

“The last thing I want to be known as is a party band,” he says. “I think it’s all about what you put on the record, and I believe I’m respecting and representing the songwriter world. I don’t see myself as an entertainer, but I do enjoy being onstage.

“When I’m playing with a full band, it’s all about enjoying ourselves and the music. My biggest fear has always been not being taken seriously. The amount of talent in this band allows us to cut loose and enjoy ourselves. It would be different if we weren’t playing well or screwing up the songs.”

While Green’s fans are used to a celebratory and high-energy show, most of them recognize his songwriting skills as well. Songs like “Still Think about You” and the title track from Ringling Road are great examples of the pictures he so vividly paints with his words and music. Those images only get amped up in a live setting. Rolling Stone listed Ringling Road No. 25 in a “30 Great Country Albums You Never Heard Of” feature.

Following the release and touring cycle for his last studio album, Hebert Road, Green opted to record another live album, Live at Cheatham Street Warehouse, which was released in November. This time, however, it’s a more stripped-down affair, spotlighting the songwriting over the party and even sharing some insight into the songwriting process between songs.

“In 2011 and 2012, most of the band moved to San Marcos [Texas] while I was still in West Texas,” says Green while explaining the local for the live album. “The guy who owned Cheatham Street was a gentleman named Kent Finley, who became a dear friend of mine and was a special guy. He ended up having cancer two times. I met him when he was in remission and was friends with him as he was dying. He was interested in me and my music. He was a strong influence and mentor for me.

“Cheatham Street is where the songs always meant the most. It just seemed like a natural fit when we did this album because I wanted to strip things down and focus on the songwriting. I had a guitar built in Kent’s honor for that show.”

The warmth of Cheatham Street comes out in the recordings, both with Green sharing the stories behind the songs and with a setlist that digs into deeper cuts like the poignant “This Is Us,” “She Loves Horses,” and fan favorites like “She Likes the Beatles.”

While the Cheatham Street Warehouse has a spot in Green’s heart, it’s not the only venue he and his band like to play.

“Being from Texas, Gruene Hall and Billy Bob’s are always what you aspire to, but those have become the norm for us at this point. Gruene Hall [New Braunfels, Texas] is just a special place. Cain’s Ballroom has got to be one of my favorites. The owners and crew are always great to us, the stage is special, and the crowd is always amazing. I remember the first time we pulled 1,000 people there. We were amazed. We don’t draw crowds like that anywhere else in Oklahoma. Tulsa has something special going on.”

Green will be at Cain’s twice within a couple of weeks. He’ll bring the full band for a headline show Dec. 20, before returning Jan. 1 as part of the Hangover Ball.

“I see it [Hangover Ball] as a pre-Steamboat Music Festival warm-up,” Green says. “The best part is when someone plays a new song for the first time and the crowd goes crazy. Then it’s like the next guy says, ‘Well, I’ve got a new song too…’ I think it becomes something special for the fans and us.”

LOCATOR
William Clark Green
Cain’s Ballroom
423 N. Main St. | Tulsa
Dec. 20: 8:30 p.m.