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Country Music legend Clay Walker speaks on love, life and fame

 

Last updated 8/28/2017 at Noon

Country Music legend Clay Walker will kick off the new “Country at the Downs” concert series at Galway Downs Aug. 27.

Break out those cowboy boots and get ready to two-step on out to Galway Downs for the first concert in their new “Country at the Downs” concert series, featuring multi-platinum country artist Clay Walker.

Walker, who took time to speak with Valley News on love, life and what it’s like to be famous, will perform at Galway Downs Aug. 27.

Walker’s performance is sure to be a hit with music lovers and concert goers alike. Known for his high-energy performances, Walker will perform such hits as “What’s it to You,” “She won’t be Lonely Long,” and a variety of songs from his upcoming album, “Long Live the Cowboy.”

According to Walker, kicking off the series for the newly revamped Galway Downs is quite the honor.

“I’ve always liked SoCal and especially Temecula,” he said, adding he has done some shows in the area in the past. “Folks are awesome, when I look in the audience I see myself and I see my family. It’s great people. To kick off this thing with Galway Downs is exciting. We are excited that they asked us to join them and proud and pleased that we are.”

The Aug. 27 concert is the only California stop on Walker’s current tour. He said his band wasn’t planning on doing any shows on the West Coast until his new album releases but couldn’t resist the chance to help Galway Downs start something “new and exciting.”

“We got the call from Galway and once we realized what they were doing, it was flattering they wanted us to participate,” he said. “We are glad we are doing it.”

Walker said that being part of the changes at Galway Downs’ A Legend Reborn is something that is truly an honor.

“You never see yourself as anything special, at least I don’t,” he said. “It is flattering that we would be in the same phrase as the word legend. For me, I am still that same kid that grew up in Beaumont, Texas.”

While “Long Live the Cowboy” hasn’t been released yet, Walker said he will perform songs from it for concert goers at Galway Downs.

“The folks in Temecula will get the first shot at it,” he said. “I will probably do five songs off this new record coming up.”

“Long Live the Cowboy,” a single on the album, will be the show opener, according to Walker, who also said that the high-energy show will have a new light show, a video wall and a great flow.

“We go from one song to another and for the most part it’s 90 minutes of nonstop music,” he said. “We still can’t fit all our songs into it. Thirty-one hits is a lot to fit into one show.”

Walker began playing guitar at the young age of nine and started playing in Honky Tonks as a teen, all of which helped to shape him into the artist he is today.

“It shaped my life,” he said. “I don’t know how other singers operate, but for me, growing up in the Honky Tonks, you see a lot. Kids learn a lot more from what they see versus what they are told and I learned a lot, including how to navigate through the good parts and the bad of the scene.”

Walker said he owes his successes to those people in the Honky Tonks who gave him his start in the music business.

“For the most part, it’s really who I am, those Honky Tonks and those bars are people just like me,” he explained. “They are the reason I am a singer right now. If they hadn’t supported me, coming to watch me, I would have never made it this far, so they were really the foundation, and still are, of what I am.”

Walker doesn’t stop to rest on his laurels though. After being diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis in 1996, he kept making music, but also focused on raising awareness of the disease, forming his own charity, Bands Against MS.

“MS is not something I am embarrassed of or frightened to talk about, I’ve actually grown quite comfortable with having it,” he said. “I’m an advocate for research, advocate for education, I want to see people with MS live better, immediately and they can.”

Walker said the disease can be devastating, and that he hasn’t met many people with MS who have the energy he has.

“I don’t know what I am doing differently, but I never have fatigue, which seems to be the most common side effect,” he said. “I can get physically tired by exerting myself, but I don’t wake up and feel fatigued during the day or night. I have just as normal of a day as most really, healthy people.”

Walker said he is active and enjoys a full life in spite of being told that he would be in a wheelchair within four years and dead within eight years of his diagnosis.

“That’s probably the hardest thing that I ever had to face or had to hear,” he said. “It makes me feel a bit uneasy when I haven’t had any sign of progression in the last 19 years.”

Walker said that his doctor told him it’s pretty much a miracle the way his disease has stayed at bay.

“For that I can give some credit to modern medicine, but I have to give the majority of credit to my faith and belief that a high power created me and he had a different purpose for me than dying.”

Walker said after his diagnosis he prayed and made a plan to do everything in his power to beat the disease.

“Guess what, it worked and finding what worked was not the easiest thing but I had help to do it and that is what the human spirit is about,” he said. “We are here to help each other and if I can help somebody get through just half a day with M.S. just a little bit better than they had yesterday, then I have done my part.”

While he continues to battle the disease with a healthy diet, moderate exercise and prayer, it’s performing in front of his legions of fans and knowing how his music affects them that gives him pleasure.

“If they see that I am excited onstage, I am not faking it,” he said. “The thing I’ve realized about the country music audience is they realize I am one of them. They feel it and it’s not something that they have to sit and analyze. It’s in their interior and when they hear that song and it hits their speakers on their headphones or in their car or truck, they feel that thing I am talking about and it comforts them because they feel like they are riding with or listening to a friend. That’s not something you can fake.”

For more information on Bands Against MS, visit www.bandagainstms.org.

For more information on Clay Walker, visit www.claywalker.com.

For more information or to purchase tickets for Clay Walker’s concert at Galway Downs, visit www.galwaydowns.com.

 

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