So, now I don't do computer work. I get by doing odd jobs and playing music when I can.
Q: When and why did you pick up the harmonica?
A: I was about 14. I used to hitchhike a lot, and a harmonica is an instrument you can carry with you. It's good company, and with the harmonica, I've sat in with different bands over the years. It's a good instrument.
What's interesting to me is there are more opportunities for me to play here in Charleston than in Cincinnati. In Cincinnati, it's all cover bands, but in Charleston, if you don't have an original set, you're not competing.
Q: Hitchhiking, harmonicas, the odd jobs and the beard -- is that why you're called Hobo Clay?
A: It does seem to fit. I used to hitchhike. I went everywhere with it. I didn't get as far as the West Coast, but I got to New Mexico, Colorado and Wyoming. You can't really hitchhike any more. I tried about five years back to hitchhike and was stuck in Point Pleasant for 18 hours.
I don't jump trains. That's one people ask me about. I had a couple of relatives who died trying that. I like Amtrak. That's nice, but I don't jump trains.
The beard is five years old, and it won me some money. A few months ago, they had a beard contest at Mardi Gras Casino and Racetrack. I won "Best Beard in Show" and "Best Long Beard." I walked out of there with $700.
Q: Playing music for fun and playing in clubs are two different things. How long have you been playing in public?
A: About three years. I stared with the open mics. I played a lot of those. I guess I started playing on my own two years ago and then put together a band eight months ago. They're really good guys.
We play kind of mix. I've got a few originals, but we do a good bit of bluegrass, rock and blues. Blues is really easy on harmonica.
Q: What's on the horizon for you?
A: I think we'd like to record some day. That sounds good, but I have no immediate plans and no immediate funds to make that happen. Well, I want to keep playing for money. That's pretty good. I like to entertain.Reach Bill Lynch at ly...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5195.