Billy James Clayton’s love of music has been ever-present in his life.
Billy James Clayton’s love of music has been ever-present in his life. It began in the church choir when he was a young boy in Michigan and followed him through the Marine Corps and life on the road as a big rig trucker. Clayton, a resident of Buckhorn, is now trying to break onto the national country music scene with his first CD and is setting plans in motion to record a second. He already has a bit of local celebrity, courtesy of his time as a popular radio host, although he is now the first to admit that he’s finding it hard to lose the on-air moniker he coined for himself. “One of my friends said I should start calling myself ‘The Artist Formerly Known as Tan-Man,’” he said with a laugh. “I never thought it would be as hard to change that as it is.” Clayton has a substantial local fan base and enjoys performing at area festivals and events, where he’s warmly received by his friends and neighbors. However, between live performances he’s actively trying to network with music industry contacts and other musicians. “I’ve been pretty busy,” he admitted. Clayton also has his eyes set on his next goal, cutting another CD in Nashville. His first CD, “Truckload of Love,” is already sold in some local businesses, including the Sunshine Café in St. Robert. Clayton also takes the CD with him when he performs in the area, hoping to gain new fans wherever he goes. The songs on “Truckload” were written by Clayton while he was living on the road as a long-haul trucker. “Any trucker can relate to those songs,” he said. But he said the CD isn’t solely for truckers. Anyone who has been away from loved ones or headed out on their next big adventure will be able to relate. Clayton said he’s proud of his debut CD, but he is already working on his follow-up. “I’ve got my next CD written out,” he said. “I already know that I want it to be grittier and have more of a personal sound.” And he’s busy eyeing his next move, which may include a trip out to Nashville. “If you want to be a country music singer, you’ve got to go to Nashville,” he stated. However, no immediate plans are in the works for a visit yet and while Clayton ponders his next move he keeps concentrating on his local fans and industry networking. “It’s just like in the Marines,” he said of his philosophy. “I’m just going to keep throwing punches and one of them is going to land.” To learn more about Clayton and his upcoming concert dates, or hear some of his tracks, visit Facebook or www.reverbnation.com and search for “Billy James Clayton.” His next gig will be performing at a fundraiser in Crocker Park Saturday at 6 p.m.