In the past three years, Clayton Anderson has managed to do the unthinkable. He has cracked into the country music world backwards, independently, and with a fury. Opening for some of country's biggest stars, the likes of Jason Aldean, Eric Church, Kenney Chesney – twice, and Mr. Party himself Jimmy Buffett, Clayton has put himself on the country music map without the benefit of entering Nashville's star-making factory. He's done it the old fashioned way, playing backrooms, side stages, and honky tonks from Michigan to Florida, each time gaining a few more fans and a better foothold on areas that aren't traditional country strongholds.
Growing up in Southern Indiana, Clayton is used to hearing that country comes from the south. And while you can't list any Indiana country singers as easily as you could put together a line-up from Dixie states like Georgia or Texas, it has been the foundation of Clayton's fan base, and if you have ever seen an Indiana Hoosiers basketball game or heard the name Bob Knight, you have an idea of how fanatical that state's supporters can be.
Perhaps that's why when Clayton independently released his debut feature-length album last week on iTunes, it climbed as high as #17 on the country album chart sales, situating itself next to household names like Zac Brown, Brad Paisley, and Blake Shelton. And while it was a short spike in sales, he was the only independent artist in the top 100 and it speaks volumes about how his fans have craved his first album. Produced at the same studio that brought previously unknown Jerrod Niemann into the spotlight last year, the album includes songs written by some of Nashville's biggest songwriters, including last year's songwriter of the year – and #1 hit-maker – Dallas Davidson.
I'm not sure if Hank done it this way, but if the torrid pace that Clayton Anderson is on is an indication, you will see it for yourself very soon. He just has a knack for getting his music to the people, and making first time fans lifetime fans almost as fast as you can say "Up, Down...Party". It surely won't be too long before country radio takes notice, but until then make sure you tell your friends you knew about him first.