By Eileen Tilson
Growing up in the height of 99X, pretty much everyone I knew was a fan of Jump Little Children. Some of my fondest memories involve being at Big Day Out, watching JLC jam out with Ben Folds Five. Jay Clifford, the man with the golden voice, is back from his hiatus, with an album that was completely funded by his die-hard fans. Jay is starting off his tour to promote the new album, Silver Tomb for the Kingfisher (due out Sept. 13), and he is kicking it off in Atlanta at Smith’s Olde Bar on Sept. 17th. He chatted with me as part of our 5GB series, and is easily one of the most articulate and considerate musicians I’ve ever interviewed.
What is the the first gig you ever went to?
I think it was James Taylor…Or actually it might have been Pink Floyd. This is actually a funny story. I was about 15, the show was on a school night, and I promised my Spanish teacher that I would be in class the next morning. Well we got stuck in traffic on the way to the show, so I jumped out of the car and ran to the show! Well this was well before the times of cell phones, and I totally got separated from my friends. At the end of the show, the parking lot was empty, and I wandered into a Holiday Inn, and fell asleep under a table. Finally the manager woke me up and brought me to my brother’s frat house. I walked in and fell asleep on the first chair I saw, which just so happened to be in front of his room! He took me home the next day, but I never made it to Spanish class!
Best gig you have ever played/performed at?
It was one of our last Jump Little Children shows and we played in Charleston at the Gaillard Auditorium with the Charleston Symphony. I have a background in writing music, and it took about 5 months to write all the parts for all of the different instruments, but it was incredibly artistically satisfying hearing an orchestra play your music.
Best gig you’ve ever been to?
Definitely Paul Simon, right after Rhythm of the Saints came out. I was at an incredibly impressionable age of 19, and seeing the depth of his songwriting live was amazing.
What is the gig you would most like to play?
Well festival shows are always a lot of fun to play, but after touring non-stop for more than a decade, I find myself preferring to play smaller venues like the Sin-é in NYC.
If you could put your dream lineup on a gig, who would it be?
Hmm, I would say Nick Drake, Bon Iver, and John Lennon doing a solo on his piano. But I heard that later in his career John would come off the stage and throw up from stage fright. So it would have to be John Lennon, playing “Imagine” on his white piano, and then pukes on stage right afterwards.
Jay Clifford plays Smith’s Olde Bar This Saturday, 9/17/11