If not for a school talent show, Nick Clyburn might have grown up to be a poet, not a musician“I was reading some poetry I wrote at a talent show, but it was the kid doing a John Mayer song all the girls were paying attention to,” Clyburn recalls. “Immediately I was thinking ‘I need to do that.”
Clyburn did indeed pick up a guitar and start writing melodies to go with his words, but his performing career was delayed until after a stint serving his country in the Marines. Over four active duty years Clyburn did a tour in Afghanistan, got married, and had three kids along the way and gained an appreciation for more than just the music he’d heard on the radio growing up.
“My dad was a radio DJ so I was always listening to the radio,” Clyburn says. “Hootie and the Blowfish was the soundtrack to my childhood., but I was also into Dylan and Kris Kristofferson, the great songwriters.”
His own writing began to lean to more classic rock and country legends as he matured. The resulting hybrid of Americana, Red Dirt country, and rock ‘n’ roll is informed by FM radio hits and 90’s roots rock: Steve Earle and Merle Haggard, Humble Pie and Hootie.
Clyburn is aided on stage and in the studio by an ace band of friends and veteran South Carolina musicians including guitarists Herbie Jeffcoat (Sourwood Honey) and Michael Atwater, bassist Mike Mills (Casual Kings, Treadmill Trackstar), and drummer Collin Danker (Casual Kings).
Jeremy Roberson, another talented local currently drumming for Chase Rice, played on several of Clyburn’s recording sessions as well.
What these stage and studio pros see and hear in Nick Clyburn is what fans gravitate to also—a downtoearth perspective born of a life that, while young, has already been well lived. His songs still tackle the kind of relationship issues that many a great country song has been written about,
but from a more nuanced point of view than most of his modern country music peers.
“Treading Water” is typical of Clyburn’s potent country vibe, big on catchy choruses and clever wordplay but still rocking enough to blast from your truck speakers on Friday night. The power ballad “Alone in my Bed” takes the weekend metaphor past the party stage into the lonely realization of the consequences of one’s actions, and sets it to a soaring guitar soundtrack.
Nick Clyburn’s music, then, is the perfect soundtrack for the next generation of country music fans, listeners more interested in “it’s complicated” than “Watch this, y’all…” as their lives expand beyond the superficial into what really matters to them.