Guitarist, singer, and songwriter Clarence Spady, a thirty-something blues musician, has a bright future. Spady has been credited with taking the music in new and exciting directions, writing at times introspective, autobiographical blues lyrics for the 1990s.
His debut for the Philadelphia-based Evidence Music, Nature of the Beast, received critical praise from all corners of the blues world, and he's signed to a multi-album deal with the label. (Spady recorded the album independently before executives at Evidence signed him.) Like diddley bow player Lonnie Pitchford, Spady was cited by Living Blues magazine as one of the "Top 40 under 40" blues players to watch in the future.
Spady learned blues from his father, and played his first professional show as a five-year-old in kindergarten, where he performed B.B. King and James Brown tunes for his classmates.
Raised in Scranton, PA., where he's still based, Spady would sit on his dad's lap and watch him play guitar until bedtime. Spady got his first guitar at age four; blues fever caught him early on, and he's never let it go. His first show came later that year, when he was six, playing with his father, older brother, aunt and uncle at the Paterson Elks Club in New Jersey. Like any good bluesman, Spady was raised singing in church, which he attended every Sunday with his mother. Unlike other Southern bluesmen who were raised just a generation earlier, the blues were not forbidden in the Spady household; quite the contrary, they were encouraged, since his father and other relatives played the music. Spady sang gospel music in church and took his cue from the secular music of the day played on the radio around New York City, including James Brown, the Isley Brothers, and Jimi Hendrix. He counts B.B. King and Albert Collins among his main blues mentors, and throughout his formative years, Spady played with various rock and gospel groups, honing his chops in the hope that one day he would lead his own blues band.
After he graduated from high school in 1979, Spady hit the road with regional groups and spent most of the '80s with the Greg Palmer Band, which opened for major touring acts like the Temptations, the Four Tops, and the Spinners. After getting off the road in 1987, Spady played lead guitar in several Scranton-area blues bands and also directed the Shiloh Baptist Church Choir. By the early '90s, Spady decided to lead his own band.
Much of the material on Nature of the Beast is drawn from his personal experience with drugs and his former relationships with women. Although he's long since dropped the drug habit he picked up in his years after high school, the experiences provided him with fodder for some of the songs on his debut.
Spady's multi-album deal with Evidence Music was formalized in February, 1996, after the company agreed to remaster and repackage Nature of the Beast, the independently released album which got him radio airplay and allowed him to tour clubs and festivals up and down the East Coast. Spady will be a force in the blues world for a long time to come, as he backs up great singing with stellar guitar playing and a creative muse for blues lyric writing that the world will find refreshing. ~ Richard Skelly