STORY WRITTEN BY GARY GRAFF
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Delbert McClinton is not a guy who needs a new album to take him out on tour.
The 76-year-old Americana and blues stalwart from Texas is, in fact, a road warrior with a routinely heavy schedule of shows. He’s as a seafarer, too, having launched the enduring Blue Cruise, the first of the now well-populated music boat trips.
As it turns out, however, McClinton does have a new album this year — “Pick Of The Litter,” his first in four years. He recorded the set, which came out in January, with his Self-Made Men band and producer/keyboardist Kevin McKendree in Franklin, Tenn. Jimmie Vaughan and Lou Ann Barton make guest appearances, and it’s clear that on album No. 25 McClinton is as engaged and fiery, and in some ways even moreso, than he was when his first release came out in 1972…
• McClinton’s goal for “Pick Of The Litter” was pretty straightforward. “We set out to make not just a record, but to make a great record — and I think we did it. That’s good enough, I think,” McClinton says with a laugh. “What’s most important is that we had so much fun doing this record. You get it to the point to where you can’t get it any better and you feel like it’s done, and that’s a great feeling.”
• McClinton says his affinity with his current band of Self-Made Men is evident throughout “Pick Of The Litter.” “These guys I’ve been working with now for going on five years,” he says. “It’s the best band I ever played with in my life. Everybody is so into it and we all have so much fun making music together. It just doesn’t get any better than that, to be able to spend your time working with people you have so much admiration for. That just goes through the whole thing.”
• McClinton’s vocal performance on the album is particularly noteworthy. “I found a new voice after my heart surgery two and a half years ago,” McClinton reports. “It got my attention pretty good. They fixed it and I had no heart damage at all. I feel like I’m 50 again, and I think you can hear that in my voice.”