Antsy McClain is hilarious. He is also insightful and heartwarming.
Whether he’s performing solo or with his incredible band of musicians called the Trailer Park Troubadours, Antsy McClain will have you “laughing til your cheeks are sore,” and tearing up over “the good stuff:” love, family and friends. As a songwriter, Antsy wants to touch every emotion. “I love to make people laugh – if we can laugh, we can heal – and that will always be a big part of my shows. But without something deeper, it’s just a superficial cartoon: me with the big hair, plaid pants and funky clothes, the band with their antics. We have a good time up there, but we want to leave you with tears in your eyes from laughing and from recognizing that life is short so enjoy the ride.”
Antsy calls what he does “humor with heart.” Funny without ridicule. Sentimental without saccharine.
“We’ve all gone through a lot these last few years,” Antsy says, “Isolation and loss has changed us. And while it’s going to be especially difficult for me to get out on the road again, I see the need for the good mojo our special community gives to people – and this time, I may be in need of it most.”
In September of 2022, Antsy said goodbye to the love of his life, Deana Lynn, after 18 long months of caregiving following her cancer diagnosis. They had made it though the pandemic together, had begun to plan tour dates and travel that would finally take them out of isolation and back to the arms of the tribe they loved so much, the musicians and friends who awaited them on the road. It was not to be. Antsy, once again cancelled the tour dates he and Deana Lynn had painstakingly rescheduled, to see her through the awful ordeal no one should ever have to go through alone.
The friends of Antsy’s music (more than 20 albums to date) call themselves Flamingoheads, after the iconic plastic figurines that have adorned trailer park lawns for decades. They are a caring bunch of people who call themselves cousins, per Antsy’s wishes on social media to not only “friend” him, but “cousin” him, as this all seems too much like family to use any other word. “I am confident that I have more cousins than anyone on Facebook,” Antsy recalls with a smile, “Last count it was in the hundreds. That’s a big family. I’m a lucky man.”
The backdrop for these characters and stories is the semi-fictional mobile home community called Pine View Heights. It was designed after his own upbringing in several Central Ohio trailer parks where he lived with a blue collar family, raised by a truck-driving father and an Avon-selling, stay-at-home Mom. “You can’t make this stuff up,” Antsy recalls, “It’s like the Blues. You gotta live it.” And live it, he does, honoring those who mentored him with grace and dignity, albeit exposing the foibles and occasional scar tissue that makes us all unique and endearing.
When asked if there are common threads that run through his music, Antsy answers in the affirmative: “Don’t clutter your life with stuff that doesn’t matter. Hug your loved ones. Appreciate each moment. Use your powers for good. I’ve been writing that same theme paper for years and setting it to music – from my first album in 1999 to this most recent one coming out later this year.”
Antsy McClain’s latest album, to be released in the Summer of 2023, is the self-produced, “The Indelible Man,” and covers the emotional range his fans have come to expect from this wildly creative and diverse songwriter.
His new song, “Cover Up Lover,” is the story of a man and his tattooed betrothed who bears the name of a previous love interest on her arm. He takes her to a tattoo parlor and tells her, “I’m your cover up lover / You’ll never need another tattoo / With someone’s name / I’m the road that meets the rubber / The one who’s gonna see you through / Life’s joy and pain.” Antsy ends the song by giving us the album’s title, saying, “Now, let’s get all the ink that we can / Now that you’ve found your indelible man.”
It’s this kind of literary duality – superficial scar tissue and ink on the one hand, but a deep and heartfelt declaration of love and devotion on the other – that draws new fans to Antsy’s music and creates a well-deserved place for him as one of America’s most poignant writers and performers.
Called a Renaissance Man by his peers (Antsy is also a graphic designer and illustrator, working with a who’s who client list consisting of The Atlantic Monthly, Simon & Schuster, Newsweek, Psychology Today among countless others.), Antsy has embraced the life of an artist, saying he wouldn’t have it any other way.
“In my earliest memories, I knew I was different, weird, a misfit. But I had the love and support of some very dear people. Mom and Dad, and later a devoted stepfather. Teachers. Friends. They encouraged me, and allowed me to be weird. And that – even today – that continues to make all the difference.
“I think I may have said this before,” Antsy says with a wry smile, “But I’m a lucky man.”
THIS JUST IN: An animated series based on the characters and stories of Antsy’s music is currently in development. More on that later when details can be shared.
Videos of Antsy McClain for your viewing pleasure.
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