“Citizen Clay” is the latest release of musician and filmmaker Clay Otis, who teamed up with members of both Dream Team and The Sheiks on this album to create a sort of Memphis supergroup – Clay Otis and The Dream Sheiks. They had a release show February 1 at the Hi-Tone, performing the album in full and selling merchandise designed by artist Josh Breeden, with a reunion of the defunct Memphis band Chinamen as the opener. I unfortunately missed out on Chinamen being a thing around town, which is a bummer because they put on a hell of a show, even though apparently one of them was passing a kidney stone? (Hopefully that was just a joke.) I’m disappointed I never caught them in their heyday, but I’m glad I at least know about them now.
Next up was Clay Otis, apparently a surprisingly reluctant performer who urged the crowd to get closer to the front to make him feel more comfortable before starting, but once he got rolling he was shaking and dancing and sweating and owning that stage, so I never would have guessed he had any hesitation being the center of attention if I hadn’t heard it previously. It was a treat seeing so many great local musicians collaborating, a reminder that Memphis has an embarrassment of riches in that area. My favorite track on the album so far is “Friend on Crack,” a song about drug-addicted friends that’s lyrically dark but trickily disguised as a breezy, ass-shaking jam. Check it out below, along with photos of the show, including a few of the Chinamen reunion!
Clay Otis and the Dream Sheiks