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Teen musician Chase Clanton makes a name for himself in Tennessee

Updated: Jun 3, 2020

By Daniel Scroggins, Studio M staff //

At 17 years old, most people are focused on graduating high school, but Chase Clanton has music on the mind.

Clanton, a red-headed and bespectacled senior at Central High School in Shelbyville, Tennessee, is classified as a “super picker” and plays with his band, Chase Clanton and the Vintage Vibes, at watering holes across the state. In September he appeared on the lineup of the 41A Music Festival in Tullahoma, Tennessee.

Jerry Clanton, Chase’s father, recalls a time when Chase went to a Guitar Center in Nashville.

“While chase is playing, an older gentleman came in and started to play close to him. The man stopped playing and came over to chase and his family and said “you need to come down to Layla’s on Broadway and play with us,” Jerry recalls of what Ron Miller said.

Chase and his family went to the gig, and Chase has filled in with the band ever since he was 14.

The Clantons don’t want to expose their son to much too fast, so they pick the venues and accompany him to shows.

Music is big for the Clantons, and it resonates in Chase. His father, Jerry, plays the guitar and banjo.

“There are pictures of me when I was 2 years old acting like I’m playing guitar with my dad,” Chase says.

He tells a story of how, in second grade, he was playing the video game “Guitar Hero” in school. The teacher had him and three other friends get up on stage and act like they were rock stars — and that’s when he knew what he wanted.

At 10, he started taking lessons with Tom Fuss a well respected musician from Shelbyville, Tennessee.

“Chris Carpenter (a recording artist with crew 22) and I were doing radio interviews and we went to the Duck radio station,” recalls John Mattick, a Grammy-nominated keyboardist.John started and records for Crew 22, a studio that does music for sitcoms and other recordings  “Chase was the one-man Paul Shaffer David Letterman band all by himself. When he started playing, he was rocking out, and we were just so knocked out,”

Next up for Chase: college. He plans on attending MTSU for the music program under the encouragement of his family and friends. Music will always be there for Chase as he will play wherever and whenever he can.

During the interview, Clanton  brings out a beautiful guitar case. Inside is his most prized guitar, a 1978 Gibson “The Paul.” The beautiful, dark-wood-grain guitar is a prize just to goggle over, and he says the instrument was passed down from a friend. And that he had also played with Conway Twitty make it that much more special.

Chase is influenced by classic rock, noting if he could connect with anyone in Nashville, it might be Peter Frampton.

“If I could meet him that would be pretty cool,” he said.

Daniel Scroggins is a journalism student at Middle Tennessee State University.

Studio M, a project of the College of Media and Entertainment at MTSU, allows student journalists to be published statewide and nationwide. It’s made possible through grants and donations from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, The Tennessean and BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee.

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