The 2022 Country Music Cruise, which had been scheduled to depart from Fort Lauderdale on January 15 but was pushed back due to a surge in Covid-19 cases, is now planned to set sail on Saturday, March 26, featuring a stellar lineup of Music City’s finest. Hosted by Circle TV personality Nan Kelley, the cruise will feature country stars like Josh Turner, Lorrie Morgan, the Bellamy Brothers, Lee Greenwood, BR549 founder Chuck Mead and more than a dozen others, including Nashville utility man Jake Clayton, who will be fronting his own trio.
Clayton, noted for his work with Tanya Tucker, Chris Young, Thompson Square and others, will be performing with his mainstay guitarist Rob Daniels and bassist Amanda McCoy. And he may even hit the stage with some of the other acts, most of whom he’s crossed paths with during 15 years of performing around the world, on the Grand Ole Opry, on national television and more.
“I’m going to play fiddle and dobro for the cruise,” said Clayton, who plays pretty much anything with strings as well as keyboards, drums, and more. “I may play more instruments than that, we’ll see what I can take out on the ship. I may also take a banjo and mandolin with me but fiddle and dobro are going to be the primary instruments. And there are going to be so many of my friends out there playing for other artists that, if I want to play a mandolin and don’t have mine, I’m sure somebody will let me borrow one.”
Clayton just dropped a new track, “Who Are They Anyway?”, written with Al Gibson and Daniels and recorded with Daniels and McCoy. “I’ve worked with Amanda quite a bit, she’s singing the high harmony on the new single,” Clayton said. “We’ve worked together on a bunch of things. She and I also wrote a song with Candi Carpenter called ‘Dirt Around the Tree’ that was on the project that Brandi Carlile produced for Candi.”
He was also part of a recording that has been nominated for a Grammy award for Best Americana Roots Performance, Brandy Clark’s single “Same Devil.” Clayton played an instrument called the Slide King LS steel guitar, a hybrid steel guitar that combines the features of both a lap steel and a pedal steel.
With so many acts basically stuck on a ship for a week, there’s always the possibility that Clayton might find himself sitting in with some of the other acts as well. “Who knows, on those cruises all kinds of fun things can happen. We’re up for anything, that’s the fun part. I did it with Tanya back in 2017, but now going back and doing it for myself is pretty cool.”
When he’s not on the road, Clayton can often be seen performing in downtown Nashville at clubs like Tootsie’s. “I’m down there sometimes from 9:30 in the morning until 10 at night,” he said. “I really like feeling useful playing downtown. People come in from out of town, they watch me play and it puts a smile on their face, they sit down and enjoy themselves. And that’s what they come to Nashville for. So anytime I can be a part of that, I will happily do it.”
You can keep up with the adventures of this rural Missouri native at jakeclayton.com, and follow both the 2022 and 2023 Country Music Cruises at countrymusiccruise.com/booked-guests/2022-lineup.
Jake Clayton with guitarist Rob Daniels at The Stage on Nashville’s Lower Broadway.