by Eric Atria

Concert Review: Michael Claytor and the High Nooners Saturday, October 21 at the Heartwood Soundstage

To Gainesville Mayor, Lauren Poe:

It is with the utmost urgency that I ask you to declare Michael Claytor a local treasure. In case you don’t know, he is a local musician. Yes, I know we have many very talented musicians in this town, but Michael is special.

You see, he wrote, produced, directed, and starred in his very own Western Musical! Just imagine if Marty Robbins (singer of many a gunslinger ballad) wrote The Country Bear Jamboree and you get the idea.

He put this musical on at Depot Park two years ago to much acclaim. It was easily the most unique musical event I have seen in my 15 years in this town. Not to let sleeping doggies lie, Michael resurrected the franchise and put on a two-night run of the production this past weekend.

You’d think he’d run the same show, but you’d be wronger than a coyote in hot tar pit. He basically ran a sequel, picking up the story where it left off. Do you understand how much work that is?  He had 10 people on stage! There was a script! There was even improv!

I’ve put shows on for over a decade. This was WORK. And again, it was sublime. It transcended the previous show. Somehow, this singer-songwriter yet again pushed the boundaries of what can be done with live music in this town. On a shoestring budget, he put on a double-whammy doubleheader.  The songs were beautiful, exciting, hilarious.  The skits between songs had the audience in stitches. I laughed so hard I cried multiple times.

While the show was truly phenomenal, it was really about watching my Gainesville music family grow up.  Michael could have easily been just a footnote as the banjo player from Umoja Orchestra. He could have been contented to be the guy who famously played for years on Wednesday nights at Flacos.  He could have just rode the same ol’ dusty trail the rest of us local musicians ride to this day, picking up the occasional show here and there.

But he didn’t. He created something unique and pure. He gave a gift back to this city that showed he is dedicated to us and wants to continue to create amongst us.  With his band of the finest instrumentalists around, Michael left an indelible mark on Gainesville music this past weekend.

So that is why I’m asking you declare him a local treasure.  He has firmly staked claim to the title “Ambassador of the Gainesville Music Scene.”

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