My name is J. Clay Bixel. I don’t so much write songs as try to just pin them down. They are sly and tricky creatures. Sometimes they escape, but most of the time we strike an uneasy détente.
I live in a small town about 20 miles south of Denver, Colorado with my lovely wife, two large Labradors, and two cats. Despite my grumbling about spit, hair, and the other “surprises” of which we seem to have a never ending supply...there is no place on earth I’d rather be than my back porch, watching the ebb and flow of life in the prairie dog colony behind my house.
Colorado’s landscapes are both beautiful and terrifying, breathtaking and life threatening. This dichotomy has seeped into my marrow, and into the music I play. Some of my songs jangle, some snarl. Most do both at the same time. That’s just how it goes.
I have been honing my craft (not perfecting, because music is NEVER “perfect”) in the nightclubs and bars in and around Denver since before I was old enough to legally be IN them! Along the way I have been fortunate to meet and play with some amazing people -- many of who have become lifelong friends and partners in crime.
Years ago, I stumbled upon this magnificent, dilapidated old hobby shop while wandering around downtown Denver. It was the kind of building you can get tetanus from just by LOOKING at it. I was transfixed by the beauty in the rust; in awe the nobility, and yes, even courage of its simple refusal to fall down -- even though it was well past its prime. Something about it resonated with me and I never forgot it.
It’s those images I find myself returning to over and over as I struggle to explain the unexplainable; to say the things I never knew I wanted – or needed – to say. And those images became the inspiration for my upcoming album “Downtown Hobbies.”
There’s an old saying that goes, “write what you know.” In that sense, my songs are autobiographical. They are snapshots of specific moments of my life. But they are also tall tales. Life as I think it OUGHT to be. Like the stories you and your friends tell each other over and over, fact and fiction get all jumbled up to the point nobody can quite remember what really happened. And that’s the true magic of music. It’s the soundtrack to our lives, both real and imagined.
I hear that old building has finally been torn down and replaced by an urban garden. I don’t know if that’s true. I haven’t found the courage to go see for myself. I like to imagine it standing there, daring anyone -- or anything -- to knock it down. Just as it should be.