Trail Mix | Michael Clem

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I’m often surprised that some bands manage to remain a cohesive unit for twenty-five minutes.

But twenty-five years? Wow.

Michael Clem, long time bassist for folk rockers Eddie From Ohio, will be celebrating that milestone this weekend with his EFO bandmates during three sold out shows at The Birchmere, one of the region’s finest music halls.

During that quarter century run with EFO, Clem has also gone about practicing his own songcraft. This past weekend, he celebrated the release of his second solo album, Fifty Clementines, at sold out shows in both Vienna and Charlottesville, Virginia.

Fifty Clementines was recorded at JLM Studios in Charlottesville and features a bevy of fantastic Virginia artists, including local faves Sam Wilson, Sons of Bill, Terri Allard, Ellis Paul, Peyton Tochterman, and James Mclaughlin, who co-produced the record.

I recently caught up with Michael to chat about metaphysical poets, great friends who double as great musicians, and what it means to celebrate 25 years with a band.

BRO – You are coming off of a weekend of CD release shows. That has to feel good.

MC – I’m not just coming off, I’m coming down, but ever so slowly, like a feather floating back to Earth. Two full houses in my new and old hometowns, ecstatic crowds both nights, and a band that was firing like a bazooka. I couldn’t have wished for a better outcome. Yep, that feels good.

BRO – Ten years between solo records. Why the long break?

MC – Complacency. Procrastination. Sloth. I’m starting to learn my own stuff, which is why I’m not going to manufacture a clever answer. A serious wake up call over four years ago resulted in me stepping things up in my life, particularly where music is concerned. It’s what I do, and I’m too old to retrain to do anything else.

BRO – Your recording sessions included some great musicians from around Virginia. With friends like these, who needs session players?

MC – You’re not kidding! The talent among new and old friends is immense, but make no mistake, these aren’t mere hobbyists. They’re musicians by trade. I just happen to have their cell numbers, so there’s no escaping me.

BRO – We are featuring “John Donne” on this month’s Trail Mix. What’s the story behind the song?

MC – Probably one of my oldest backstories, dating back to my JMU days, about thirty years ago. By sophomore year, I was in a poetry class, and while I wasn’t the best student, my attendance was impeccable, even if I did have to roll out of my dorm bed into the class building next door at the crack of 10 A.M. I truly identified with John Donne’s “The Sun Rising” piece, as I wasn’t much of a morning person, either, at the time. I’ve had a lyric and melody bouncing around for years, but I finally finished it for this album.

BRO – 25th anniversary shows with Eddie From Ohio this weekend. Where has the time gone?

MC – I’m not very quick on the uptake, and it wasn’t until this past month while working on promotion for my 50th birthday/CD release/Eddie From Ohio’s anniversary weekend of three sold out shows at The Birchmere that it occurred to me, “Hey, I’ve spent half of my life playing with this band.” I’m actually quite proud of that . . . not my mental thickness, but my two and a half decade career.

Congrats to the lucky folks with tickets that will be joining Michael Clem and his mates in Eddie From Ohio for this weekend’s shows at The Birchmere. Fans can catch Michael doing his solo things as part of the We Are The 9 Songwriter Series at The Tally-Ho Theater in Leesburg, Virginia, on January 22nd, and in Charlottesville at The Paramount Theater on February 26th.

For more information on Michael Clem, his tour dates, or how you might grab a copy of the new record, please visit his website.

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