Broken Spoke Breakthrough

Clay Davidson Makes South by Southwest Debut at Famous Honky Tonk

AUSTIN, TEXAS — It has been awhile since new country artist Clay Davidson has played for dancers, but locals two-stepped to his music Thursday night at the Broken Spoke, a renowned honky tonk south of downtown.

Davidson’s performance was part of this year’s South by Southwest music conference. He is one of 900 artists showcasing at the event. Davidson dressed in black leather. His full-throated delivery falls somewhere in the neighborhood of Travis Tritt or late Lynyrd Skynyrd vocalist Ronnie Van Zant.

“I’ve heard about South by Southwest for four and a half years and never got to make it down here,” Davidson said following his set, “so this is unbelievable. This is awesome, man.”

The Saltville, Va., native played for about 30 minutes, kicking off with “Makin’ Hay” the first song on his upcoming album, and ending with “We’re All Here,” the last song. Local country radio representatives and a few Nashville music executives attended, but the dancing couples seemed to ignore them.

“Growing up back in Virginia, I played in clubs all my life,” Davidson said. “I’ve never had a real job. We did a lot of dancehalls, four- and five-hour nights. This is almost like starting over again. Pretty wild.”

He received a warm reception.

“I was real excited to get to do it,” Davidson said, “but it went by too fast. I would love to do this every year. This is very cool, very cool.”