Michael Hepworth


HOLLYWOOD (Perfect Music Today)8 /6/20/–Dane Clark is releasing Songs From Isolation on August 21, the first pandemic-themed and pandemic-spawned album to be issued while COVID-19 continues to ravage the country.  Indiana-based Clark is well known as the touring and recording drummer in John Mellencamp’s band and is an accomplished vocalist and multi-instrumentalist who has previously recorded and released six critically lauded albums featuring a range of guest musicains including Carlene Carter, Donovan, Ian Hunter, Mickey Raphael and members of Moby Grape.

Clark’s basement home studio served as headquarters for the effort to musically chronicle these extraordinary times with collaborating musicians working out of their own respective workspaces on the project. With touring at a standstill and concerts non-existent, Clark found himself locked down at home in Anderson, IN and living on unemployment insurance during the early weeks of the pandemic.

On March 20, while on his morning walk, he got in touch with fellow musician Jason Sturgeon and together they formulated a plan to record an EP that grew into a full length 12-song collection that would come to be titled Songs From Isolation. Clark is  a gifted songwriter about whose work Mott The Hoople’s legendary front man Ian Hunter noted, “Good songs like these don’t grow on trees, they grow on people.” With the exception of Jimmy Cliff’s very apropos “Sitting In Limbo,” all of the songs are originals.


Clark recalls that day, “I had half of “Six Feet Away’ written in my head before I could get to my piano and figure out the chords! I finished the music very quickly and, using a couple of lines Jason Sturgeon had suggested, finished the lyrics as well. I next thought of my 70 something neighbor, recently widowed, and how this must be affecting him. Before I got up from the piano all of ‘Ain’t Getting Out Of Bed Today’ was done.” He noted of the song, “If John Lennon and John Prine had a lovechild, it’d be that song.” Dane went on to explain, ‘”’When The Panic Sets In’ was about half finished that day as well. The first verse was written later, in real time, while I was watching the first protests in Michigan at the statehouse, about people wanting to go back to work.”

“By late afternoon I had to figure out how to record these tunes, so I called on the guys in Indiana I worked with frequently who had home studios and the ability to record and send files back and forth.” Clark recalls. “Most of them were unemployed like me and were looking for something to do. Why not start a new band and make a record?”

Those who agreed included Troye Kinnett, another Mellencamp band veteran who contributed keyboards, accordion, harmonica and vocals; Randy Melson, a bass player with whom Dane has worked for four decades as well as guitarist/vocalist Erik Scull who has been part of the Dane Clark Band for 20 years.  The aforementioned Sturgeon, a singer-songwriter with whom Clark has worked live and in the studio many times in the past is also a “Backroom Boy” in good standing.  Also appearing on the album is Abigail Clark, Dane’s youngest daughter and an accomplished singer/songwriter in her own right.

Dane had long been aware of John Sebastian’s version of “Sitting In Limbo” which was a focus track on the latter’s 1974 release Tarzana Kid. “I reached out to him and he jumped at the chance to play guitar and harmonica on it! He dug the groove we had and added his fantastic parts and said he’d be glad to play on some more stuff. That’s when I wrote the last song for the album, which came to be the opening cut, and as a reprise on the penultimate number in which his fantastic harmonica playing is featured.”

John Sebastian was more than willing to participate but had some initial trepidation about joining in.  He explained, “Jumping in with the Backroom Boys is like trying to get on a train that’s going 30 miles an hour.”  The ensemble’s musical abilities soon put him at ease. He marveled, “These guys are so tight already it makes it a lot easier than you’d think to keep up with them.”  Sebastian is front and center on “”You’ll All Be Hearin’ From Me” in which The Lord, pre-pandemic, tells mankind he’s not very happy about what’s going on in the world.  Likewise, Sebastian’s harmonica blasts through on the song’s reprise in which mankind calls out to Him to “give us a break down here.”

By early April, Dane looked up and realized he and his friends had completed 10 songs and that’s when it dawned on him to think of the effort as more than an EP and even more than an album. “I realized this was an entire album’s worth of tunes in a timeline of what the world was experiencing in this pandemic from different points of view:  a song cycle. With all the different voices and characters, it had become a ‘musical,’ a Hair for the pandemic, a longform commentary on the human condition at this time.”

Both John Sebastian and Abigail Clark are featured on the video for the track “Keep The Lights On” that is being released on August 21, along with the album on his Thundersound Records label. Dane characterizes it as “a desperate plea for desperate times.”


Soundcloud link to Songs From Isolation  https://soundcloud.com/daneclarkband/sets/songs-from-isolation-by-dane-clark-and-the-backroom-boys-featuring-john-sebastian/s-lRh5hr8rQmS



Songs From Isolation track listing

  1. You’ll All Be Hearin’ From Me (Clark)
  2. Six Feet Away (Clark/Sturgeon)
  3. Ain’t Gettin’ Out Of Bed Today (Clark)
  4. Killin’ Time (Clark)
  5. After The Rain (Clark)
  6. Sitting In Limbo (Cliff/Bright) (additional lyrics Clark)
  7. Your Heart’s Still Mine (Clark)
  8. When The Panic Sets In (Clark)
  9. Isolation (Clark/Kinnett)
  10. Keep The Lights On (Clark)
  11. You’ll All Be Hearin’ From Me Reprise (Clark)
  12. Long Road Back (Clark)




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