September 15, 2005
by JOHN DORAN
Arguably the hardest working band in Humboldt County, The Clint Warner Band plays its mix of blues, rhythm and blues, funk and rock at some club just about every weekend, sometimes at two or three clubs along with festival appearances.
This weekend the band plays a Friday night benefit at the Arcata Community Center, sharing the bill with the Tommy Castro Band, led by the bluesman in the tight black T-shirt. A Saturday afternoon wedding gig is followed by a private party in the evening, then on Sunday Clint and company close the show at the North Country Fair.
Who is Clint Warner? The short answer: He's the guitarist and vocalist for a rockin' blues band. Of course, there's more to his story than that.
Clint Warner was born in San Francisco in 1967, one month after the fabled Summer of Love. His parents lived on Haight Street, but, says Clint, "They were not hippies. They used to see Jefferson Airplane in the park. They were definitely into rock `n' roll, and that has always been one of my influences."
While he was still a toddler his folks moved to Humboldt County. His musical life started in Trinidad. He began guitar lessons begrudgingly when he was 8. "It was OK, but it was more my parents' idea than mine," he recalled.
That changed when he was 11. Pauline Murray, then a new teacher at Trinidad Elementary, brought her electric guitar and a drum kit to school and a kid's rock band took shape. Clint was hooked. "I convinced my parents to get an electric guitar and an amp. She taught us songs by the Beatles, Deep Purple and Jimi Hendrix. It was a real inspiration. And it stuck."
Guitar was not an option in the music program at McKinleyville High, so he took up the drums and ended up playing tympani in the combined ArMack Orchestra.
Various garage bands kept him involved in rock. "In my senior year I got into a band called The Werx Band. We'd play anything from The Police and the Kinks to Roxy Music. It was a cool mixture. We played all over, at the Elks Lodge, the Jambalaya and a place you may remember, Garcia's."
Not long after graduation in 1985, he followed his mom to Fresno. "The band broke up, and there wasn't much else happening here, so I moved down there, lived there for almost 15 years. I started practicing a lot — really studied guitar, studied theory, got into some professional bands. I worked with Bill Church, Sammy Hagar's bass player, for quite a while. I played in everything from country bands to heavy metal bands, just your average club bands that would play around the Central Valley. I started playing keyboards and got heavily into sequencing."
With the sequencer Clint could pre-program rhythm tracks, bass lines, horns and strings. "My wife and I started a band, a duo — I would program all the parts making the whole band behind us. I would play guitar; my wife and I would both sing."
In the '90s Clint and his wife, Cammie, fronted a band called The Persuaders. "We played a lot of music featuring female vocals, which was a big thing at the time. Eventually Cammie got burned out on it. We had kids and she was tired of playing night after night. Then when we decided to move up here, she went into semi-retirement musically."
Returning to Humboldt County after being away 15 years, Clint found himself out of the musical loop. "I didn't really know any musicians up here, but I still had the sequencer, so I could do a solo thing."
He ended up playing on his own at the Scotia Inn, mixing country covers with rock and the occasional blues number. "I did that for about two years, then started playing with different bands. At one point I was in four bands. It was too much for me, so I basically weeded that all out. I got into a thing with some friends, a trio called Static Jack, but it didn't have the direction I wanted.
"I really wanted to get back into doing blues. I had discovered the blues in high school and really liked it and always wanted to be in a band that just did blues. That was my calling, that's the music I enjoy most. That was the inspiration for putting this blues band together."
The membership has changed since he formed the Clint Warner Band in July 2003. "Rob [Anderson], my drummer, has been with me the longest. Rick Nelson came in not long after Rob." Ron Perry came onboard with his harmonica. After alternating bass players, with Tami Pallingston playing in the band part-time, Chris Matheos took over the bass slot full-time not long ago.
"Chris has really inspired me in many areas," said Clint. "He has an amazing résumé. When he went to the Berklee School of Music to study, not only did he learn his instrument, he studied business and the industry. That's really valuable. There's so much to the business side.
"We're planning out the future of the band for the next year or so. We're remixing our CD right now. We came out with Bad Weather this summer, but it wasn't quite the way I wanted it to be. It should be done, or redone, this week. Then we'll start promoting it and next year we're looking at going out doing some traveling.
"Things have gone very well for me and the guys. Being in Humboldt County there's a level of support that allows a band to thrive. I'm grateful that we are able to provide music people want to hear, and we don't take it for granted. Not every band gets to play the music they want to play. I feel lucky to be able to do what I'm doing."
The Clint Warner Band plays a benefit for the Redwood Peace and Justice Center along with the Tommy Castro Band starting at 7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 16, at the Arcata Community Center. The band's set at the North Country Fair on the Arcata Plaza is at 4:45 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 18. For more on the band go to www.clintwarnerband.com.
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