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The Local Musician That Made It Big: Clint Chandler

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Sometime around the late 1990’s, a young man from Holliday, Texas came into my recording studio on a regular basis to learn some recording skills and to work on his songwriting. This particular young man was not only extremely talented at writing songs and playing some excellent guitar, but he was a gentleman and had a good head on his shoulders.

So many of my customers had Nashville, Tennessee in their dreams and schemes. Nashville was a dream for Clint Chandler as well, but my gut feeling was that Clint could actually make a go of it. It’s not that other customers weren’t talented, it just seemed obvious that Clint had the magical combination of music sense, the lack of a career destroying ego, and an aversion to making a party out of everything musical. He was, simply put, serious, yet full of feeling, about the whole thing.

Our time working together eventually ended and Clint headed to Nashville to meet his dreams head on. I recently asked Clint to update me on his Nashville experience and not long after, I received an email from him stating, “I wrote you a book! Hope you can use some of it!” Well, it was a 1600 word email! I’m limited to about 500 words for this column every month, and as much as I would love to share all of the details, I will try hard to relate Clint’s wonderful story about a “local boy done good” in fewer words.

Clint hit Nashville in 1998 and spent four years playing “regular gigs” around town before landing his first job with a signed artist. That artist was Josh Turner of “Long Black Train” fame. Clint said his time with Josh included a lot of firsts in the business, yet a yearning for more guitar, more energy, and more of a rock and roll attitude! I thought I had stressed that to him before he left town…

His next job was with Brian McComas who had some chart success with “99.9% Sure” and a couple of other songs. The music was less traditional country and had a raw edge to it, but for all of the fun Clint was having, Brian’s career became a roller coaster ride and he lost his record deal. This resulted in changing the type of gigs they played all the way down to the mode of their transportation to and from gigs.

To fill in down time, Clint starting do a fair amount of “sub work” for artists like Tanya Tucker, Andy Griggs, Billy Currington, Ty Herndon, John Michael Montgomery, Kellie Pickler, and a few others. Eventually, in fact on his birthday in 2006, Clint received a call that he had officially become a member of Sara Evans’ band, riding the wave with hits like “A Little Bit Stronger” and “Born To Fly”.

In 2006, Clint gave his notice to Sara so he could spend some time off the road to care for his expectant wife and the arrival of twin boys. Gigs were hard to find at times when you were looking for guitar playing gigs in a town full of guitar players, but Clint persevered and worked steady and worked even harder to find time to spend many nights in the hospital after the twins were born on August 27, 2009. Eventually, the twins hit a goal of five pounds each and went home and Clint was off to the races again.

Clint received a call for another “sub gig”, this time for Lady Antebellum. They had signed a record deal and ended up really taking off in 2009 and 2010, dominating the charts. The song “Need You Now” became an international hit. Unfortunately, Clint was only subbing for them at the time, but in a strange turn of events, Clint was asked if he played slide guitar because the Lady Antebellum guitarist didn’t play much slide. Clint said he wasn’t much of slide player at all, but he spent an enormous amount of time learning the slide guitar part on “Need You Now”. Clint said he must have made a good showing, because he impressed Lady Antebellum and ended up joining them in many of their television appearances and bigger concerts when they would perform that particular song, turning the “subbing gig” into a closer relationship.
Along came the hit “American Honey”, which featured a dominate mandolin part. When asked if he played mandolin, Clint, of course, said yes! Off to the woodshed he went, learning all he could about playing mandolin.

This led to the early 2010 invitation to join Lady Antebellum as a regular member. That led to shows around the world, including the Grand Ole Opry, Australia’s Sydney Opera House, and even the Grammys. Clint has spent nearly ten years with them and due to the three principal members of Lady Antebellum starting families and wanting to spend more time with family, the gigs have been cut back to about eighty shows a year, and Clint has also gained some much-deserved family time for himself.

Clint told me he feels successful, but it’s not the success he imagined at 22 years old. He feels he has had his share of musical success, but having a family and being happy are a success he never imagined. I could have told him that twenty years ago, too!
I’m way over my word limit, but hopefully the readers will have enjoyed reading about one really fine young man, a musician’s musician, and a wonderful dad. Not bad for a young man from Holliday Texas. Bravo, Clint!

-Johnny Divine