If you judged by the quality of the performance that Clayton Gardner gave at Lakeside Icehouse in Bryan, Texas, last night you would never know that he had just driven in on a long haul from a previous performance in Oklahoma. His voice was clear and warm, and the guitar playing from both Gardner and his bandmate Joe Barrientos rang true. The evening was cool, for a Texas night anyway, and the music was captivating.
Gardner’s original songs led the night. Early in the evening it was clear he had a surprisingly large crowd of followers in the audience who knew his music. He sang Single Looks Good on You in response to a request yelled out from the crowd, and later in the set he offered up the very first song he wrote, In Time.
“This was my first effort at writing a song,” Gardner warned the crowd, “so don’t judge me on it.”
While even that fledgling song was creditable, his later music has far surpassed it. In the fall of 2013, he released “Lucky 7,” with seven songs proving to be lucky for listeners as well as Gardner. The new album is doing well, and on the Icehouse deck he concentrated on bringing his new songs to the crowd—who responded appreciatively to each offering. In 2012, Gardner’s five-song EP Here To Stay debuted at #19 on the iTunes Top 100 Country Albums chart. Since that time, he has played with well-known acts such as Aaron Watson, Rick Trevino, Pat Green, Charlie Robison, Jack Ingram, Kevin Fowler, Brandon Rhyder, Josh Abbott, and Casey Donahew.
Despite living his early years in other Texas towns, Gardner claims College Station, Texas, as his home town, and he used to be a regular at Lakeside Icehouse almost every weekend. His appearances in the community are limited now because he is in high demand across the state and beyond—as evidenced by his road time from Cookson, Oklahoma, on his way to play the Icehouse. His next scheduled appearance in the Bryan-College Station community is July 25, 2014, at Hurricane Harry’s. But you never know—you might be able to catch him at an impromptu performance at the Icehouse again whenever he feels the need for a little homecoming.