Antsy McClain and his Flamingoheads get national attention with PBS concert series
Antsy McClain is a Santa Cruz success story, which is all the more intriguing as McClain is a Nashville, Tenn. resident. For years now, McClain has been regaling Santa Cruz with musical tales of his life in a fictitious trailer park called Pine View Heights, and it looks like McClain might soon be able to afford a double-wide. His humorous, catchy songs, along with his band, The Trailer Park Troubadours, will be the center of one episode of a new PBS series entitled Sierra Stages, which will feature national music acts—including Tommy Emmanuel, Roy Rogers, Blame Sally, and more—performing in venues around Northern California.
Sierra Stages is a 13-episode follow-up to PBS producer Peter Berkow’s Sierra Center Stage—an original series which featured music performances filmed at the Sierra Nevada Brewery in Chico, Calif.—and is set to debut on PBS in January 2014. The episode featuring McClain will be filmed at the Mello Center for the Performing Arts in Watsonville on Saturday, April 6.
From his home in Nashville, McClain explains how Santa Cruz figured so intimately into his rise as a musician. The way the coiffed pompadour wearer tells it, all roads lead to KPIG founder Laura Ellen Hopper.
“At the end of 1999, we had lost our record deal after one album,” McClain laments. “The record label filed for bankruptcy, a Nashville-based smaller label. We were really frustrated and stupid me, I thought to myself, ‘Well, that’s it then!’”
McClain had already started thinking about abandoning his music career and becoming a teacher when “That very day Laura Ellen, the heart and soul of KPIG, calls me out of the blue. I still don’t know how she got my number as our whole label, agency, marketing and PR was gone and we were totally disconnected,” McClain recalls. “Laura told me that Santa Cruz was having a lot of fun with our album and that I had to fly out and do KPIG’s Humbug Hoedown. I told her we were thinking of quitting. She was like, ‘What the fuck? You’re just getting started!’”
Hopper even helped arrange a local band to play with McClain, featuring Jimmy Jackson, who is now playing with Michael Nesmith of The Monkees, Bruce Wandmayer, who still plays saxophone with The Troubadours, keyboardist Dan Becker and bassist Todd McMasters. “Our lineup is different now, but back then the bulk of the lineup was from the Santa Cruz area,” he says.
McClain’s musical personality revolves around a simple credo: Live life simply. But he’s convinced that not everyone understands that. “Some people, even after seeing a show, will bring up rednecks who have a commode on the front lawn with flowers in it and that is not what we are about,” McClain states. “I know trailer parks have been maligned for years and probably with good reason. But I was raised in a trailer park and my childhood was pretty normal.”
Now, with the help of PBS, the world will get to know what Flamingoheads (his loyal fans) have known for years: McClain and his Trailer Park Troubadours are the best band you’ve never heard of.
At the prospect of being seen nationally, McClain is ecstatic. “It’s going to be fun,” he says.
McClain is particularly excited about being a part of non-commercial television. “PBS has a fanbase that really supports artists,” he says. “People appreciate the programming, the heart and the art. It’s the antithesis to all the reality shows.”
He believes there needs to be more education-based programming but is not blind to what else is out there. “There is actually another new reality show called The Trailer Park Housewives of Las Vegas. That’s probably not going to be great for my career,” McClain says with a laugh.
Antsy McClain and the Trailer Park Troubadours will perform at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, April 6, at the Mello Center, 250 E. Beach St., Watsonville. Tickets are $49. Fans can meet and eat with the band at noon on Sunday, April 7 at Corralitos Grange Hall, 165 Little Corral Way, Watsonville. Tickets are $99 and include a concert ticket. For details, call (707) 342-9072.