Antsy McClain & The Trailer Park Troubadours celebrate new CD with NorCal concerts
Singer-songwriter, musician and humorist Antsy McClain and his band, the Trailer Park Troubadours, will wrap up this year and ring in the next with a series of shows in Northern California. The string of concerts includes a New Year’s Eve celebration in Red Bluff and a CD release party for “Live at The Palms Playhouse” in Winters at the venue in which they recorded the new double album.
Why record at The Palms?
“We [the Troubs] kept talking about this show or that show at The Palms Playhouse [when talking about favorite shows],” says McClain. “And it was obvious that this is a favorite venue—not just for me, but for everyone in the band. So when we decided to do another live album, we wanted to do it at The Palms.”
“It’s not the biggest venue we play, and that’s cool, because we wanted a smaller ‘club’ feel for the album,” says McClain. “The Palms has this cozy, intimate vibe, especially when you load the stage with six or seven guys. But there is just something that happens there. The audiences are always great. Dave [Fleming] and the staff are consummate professionals. They take very good care of us.
“It always feels like a family reunion when we come back,” he adds.
The titles of McClain’s songs give a glimpse into the lay of the land in his fictitious home-base of a friendly and quirky trailer park called Pine View Heights — think Garrison Keillor’s Lake Wobegon moved to rural Kentucky and gleaming with Airstreams — which is inspired by the trailer parks in which McClain’s family lived when he was a child.
The up-tempo “It Ain’t Home ‘Til You Take The Wheels Off” and “Living in Aluminum” are down-right celebratory country-tinged rock ‘n’ roll. “Wreck of the Bookmobile” and “Cubic Zirconium in the Rough” are cleverly crafted, touching ballads that pack punch lines that are all the better for the seemingly sensitive earnestness of the music. “I Was Just Flipped Off By A Silver-Haired Old Lady With A ‘Honk If You Love Jesus’ Sticker On The Bumper Of Her Car” is a pun-filled reflection on the oddities of everyday life.
Whether he’s leading the Trailer Park Troubadours in up-tempo crowd-pleasers such as “One Less Trailer (Here In Pine View Heights)” or playing more introspective solo pieces like “Primer Grey Impala” and “Field Trip,” McClain earns and keeps an audience’s attention like few others.
McClain’s good-humoredly audacious performance style is a hallmark of his shows. From his pompadour hairstyle to polyester clothes, from his no-holds-barred dancing to serio-comic delivery, this is a performer at the top of his game. Unlike many funnymen, McClain weaves in more serious songs without losing the flow — or the audience’s attention. His ability to ramp things up, take it down to a bubbling simmer, and then back to a rollicking boil is a testament to the range of his carefully crafted songs, to his warm, compelling vocals, and especially to his ability to establish and maintain a strong rapport with an audience.
The members of McClain’s six-piece band, The Trailer Park Troubadours, have the musical skill and dexterity to bring each song vividly to life. Able to turn on a dime and follow each other’s impromptu leads, the Troubs — who perform decked out in bowling shirts and garish plaid pants — are a tight ensemble.
Long known to their “Flamingohead” fans for high-energy performances, witty lyrics and stellar recordings, McClain and the Troubs are now getting national attention from a broad — very broad — spectrum of media, including two television specials poised to air on PBS, repeated plays on the long-running “Dr. Demento Show” and NPR’s “Car Talk,” and on NBC Sports’ Sunday Night Football.
Last year the Troubs recorded two shows at The Palms Playhouse in Winters, California with an eye to making a live album. “Live at The Palms Playhouse,” a double album with songs drawn from their 10 studio releases and a few new offerings, captures Antsy and the Troubs in full flight and simply effervesces with great music and flat-out joy.
The production successfully includes enough crowd noise to preserve the live feeling and McClain’s superb rapport with the audience but doesn’t mask the music. The energy and enthusiasm surging from both sides of the footlights is palpable, whether during Troubs classics or when the band is working without a net on brand new material like “Don’t Go On Jerry Springer, Baby.” The album purposefully lacks the polish of a studio offering, and compensates well with dynamic immediacy.
For more information about Antsy McClain & The Trailer Park Troubadours’ new album and up-coming shows, visit unhitched.com and the venues’ websites.
Antsy McClain & The Trailer Park Troubadours’ schedule:
Saturday December 28 — CD release party for “The at The Palms Playhouse” at The Palms Playhouse, Winters, CA, http://www.palmsplayhouse.com
Sunday December 29 — The Center For The Arts, Grass Valley, CA, http://thecenterforthearts.org
Monday December 30 — Private Event, Petaluma, CA
Tuesday December 31 — New Year’s Eve celebration at The State Theatre, Red Bluff, CA, http://www.statetheatreredbluff.com