Late Night OTB – Slaid Cleaves

He's been in the music business in some form or the other since 1985. He has been, it's fair to say, the opposite of an overnight success.

I stumbled on Slaid Cleaves a few months back via a recommendation engine, likely YouTube.

According to his Wikipedia bio,

Slaid Cleaves (born June 9, 1964) is an American singer-songwriter born in Washington, D.C. and raised in South Berwick, Maine and Round Pond, Maine, United States. An alumnus of Tufts University, where he majored in English and philosophy, Cleaves lives in Austin, Texas.

His full name is Richard Slaid Cleaves, but Slaid is the name that he has used his entire life.

Cleaves is a full-time touring musician, but like most musicians has held many day jobs: janitor, warehouse rat, ice cream truck driver, rope-tow operator, film developer, groundskeeper, meter reader, and pizza delivery driver. He was even a human guinea pig. He was paid to be a subject in drug studies by a pharmaceutical company.

He’s been in the music business in some form or the other since 1985 and put out what seems to have been a self-released cassette in 1990. He has been, it’s fair to say, the opposite of an overnight success–despite some noteworthy accomplishments.

In 1992, he was a winner of the prestigious New Folk competition at the Kerrville Folk Festival, an award previously given to such artists as Nanci Griffith, Robert Earl Keen and Steve Earle.

Cleaves continued to work hard in Austin, playing various clubs around the city, touring, and continuing to hone his craft as a songwriter. In 1997, he recorded and released his first national album, No Angel Knows for the Rounder-Philo label, which has been his home ever since.

In 2000, Cleaves had an Americana charts hit with his album Broke Down and song of the same name. The title track was co-written with his childhood friend Picott, whom he grew up with in Maine.

Cleaves continued to gain notice with his follow-up album, 2004’s Wishbones, appearing on the ESPN2 show Cold Pizza, and his music is praised by Nicholson Baker in his 2009 novel, The Anthologist.

“Rust Belt Fields,” from 2011’s Sorrow & Smoke: Live At The Horseshoe Lounge, is the first one I recall hearing:

“Below” is from 2004’s Wishbone:

I particularly like this one off his 2013 album Still Fighting the War, called “Gone”:

FILED UNDER: Late Night OTB
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is a Security Studies professor at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. OzarkHillbilly says:

    No one gets a bonus for bloody knuckles and scars
    And no one remembers your name just for working hard

    Truer words never sung.




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