I first met William Clark Green in about 2010, at that time just emerging among Texas' musical cast of characters as a young hopeful. Most clear in my memory, even amid the party that a live music backstage scene can tend to be, Will was the happiest guy in the place – clearly exactly where he wanted to be, and loving every second. This was a contagious vibe from the outset, one that Will had no trouble channeling into music that rings in the heart of the listener, and a live show as inspiring as it is entertaining. Between two acclaimed and successful albums, 2012’s Rose Queen and 2015’s Ringling Road, and what now clocks in at a near-decade's worth of dogged road work, William Clark Green has established himself as one of the most important voices of his genre - a voice that now pipes up again on his anticipated new album, Hebert Island.
Texas is a big place, complete with fully distinct sub-territories - we reserve the right to bust into several states, should that become strategically expedient - and our traveling musical artists tend to become experts on the rich mosaic that makes up Texas' cultural geography. Will has found himself onstage in a growing portion of her 254 counties, and has called several his home; as he puts it, "I kinda spend six years everywhere". Childhood northeast in Tyler, high school years in College Station, college years at Texas Tech in Lubbock, early music career years in the north-central hamlet of Eastland, and lately his most urban digs so far, in Fort Worth - but deep down, Will's Cajun roots call to him incessantly, and thus southeast Texas is never far from his mind. The new album is named for Will's retreat at Hebert Island (say "AY-Bear", though you'll occasionally hear "HEE-Bert") near Beaumont, and refers to the hilltop upon which his camphouse sits - not an actual island, but a potential one, should the occasional flood come to pass; high ground is valuable in this landscape. Will considers himself a "half-ass coon-ass" - a distantly-descended Cajun, but one who holds a deep appreciation for that history and that way of life. "It's a real place", Will insists, with the feeling that only such a beloved space can foster - his family has owned it since 1869, in the early years of Reconstruction, and is where they established one of the state's first rice farming operations. It's a place that echoes through time for William Clark Green, connecting his family's past and tradition to who he is as an artist, and as a man, today.
Will's desired contribution to the world is songs that change lives for the better, and he realizes that he's conduit as much as creator for that change. And in spite of - or, perhaps, because of - the demands and pressures of the life he's chosen, and the position of leadership he's earned through a decade of determination, William Clark Green is a guy who takes none of this for granted. "Our path is guided by something that's greater than me, I believe that. We can be very proud of what we've accomplished; we've done it the right way...I feel very proud of what we've done, and I'm thankful every day for where we're at."