Antsy McClain takes pride in his puffed-up pompadour, vintage leisure suit and working-class upbringing.
All three are central to his stage persona as lead singer and songwriter for his longtime folkabilly band, the Trailer Park Troubadours.
“If I wore my hair like that all the time,” says McClain, “I would need a lot of therapy.”
McClain and the Trailer Park Troubadours (not to be confused with Spokane’s own Trailer Park Girls) are due in Eastern Washington this week for three outdoor concerts: a fundraiser on Thursday in Kennewick, and evening shows on Friday and Saturday at the Columbia County Fair in Dayton.
“This is our first time in Washington state,” says McClain, from his car somewhere near Nashville, Tenn. “We’re thrilled to be heading your way.”
The Troubs, as they are known to their fans, sing a brand of music that extols the “trailer lifestyle.” Their fourth CD, “Trailercana,” includes such treasures as “Living in Aluminum” and “KOA Refugee.”
“Living in Aluminum” is an anthem of sorts, says McClain.
“It is not just about living in a trailer,” he says. “It’s about simplifying one’s surroundings and enjoying the people in your life.”
Living in trailers is something McClain knows quite a bit about. He and his sister were raised in small trailer parks in Kentucky by an Avon-selling mom and truck-driving dad.
“Every creative writing teacher will tell you to write what you know,” says McClain.
So, as a songwriter in Nashville, he set his attention to his roots – good, hard-working, blue-collar people who toil with their hands, many of whom happen to live in trailers.
One song led to another until McClain started getting some attention.
“Now it has kind of cannibalized all of my other songs,” he says.
The Troubs’ music has been described as a “rootsy, muscular blend of rock and roll” with “a unique mix of masterful musicianship and self-deprecating humor.”
This week the group will be playing its trademark folkabilly sounds that combine acoustic folk music, humor and storytelling.
Singer Patti Hall of Bellevue, Wash., will open the “Trailercana World Tour” stop at the Columbia County Fair on Friday and Saturday beginning around 7:30 p.m.
“Basically we’ll play until we think everyone has had enough,” says McClain.
“This is a blessing to us,” he adds. “It is a gift to play music with our friends and when people are there to see us, it’s a party to us.”
Troubs Airstream Rally
Airstream of Spokane, one of the sponsors of The Troubs’ trip to Eastern Washington, is hosting a Trailer Park Troubadour Airstream Rally near the fairgrounds in Dayton.
“The county fair folks are providing us with a field for dry camping,” says Karyn Dietz, co-owner, with her husband Nick, of the Spokane Valley dealership. “They are also going to run a free shuttle to the fairgrounds for us.”
So far, more than two dozen Airstreams are signed up for the free rally on Friday and Saturday nights, including folks coming from British Columbia, Idaho, Oregon and Western Washington.
If you want hookups for your RV or if you are not traveling in an Airstream, learn about all the nearby public and private RV parks by calling the Dayton Chamber of Commerce at (800) 882-6299 or going online to www.historicdayton.com.
“My wife, two little kids and I go camping quite a bit in our pop-up trailer,” says McClain. “It is small and compact and enables us to get into the more primitive campgrounds that we like.”
Living just outside of Nashville, McClain says there are numerous “breathtakingly beautiful places” within an easy two-hour drive.
“I am about to zero in on a 31-foot Sovereign Airstream,” he says.
“I like the vintage stuff. This one is a ‘handyman special,’ a fixer-upper. I’m going to gut it and trick it out. I figure it’s a year-or-two project.”
Visual artist, author
In addition to his musical gigs, McClain also excels as a visual artist and author. He created the graphic designs on his albums and the band’s Web site.
McClain recently published his third book, “It Takes a Trailer Park,” a humorous memoir about growing up in a single-wide trailer.
“The Pine View Heights trailer park is not just a physical place,” he says, “it is also a state of mind, much like Garrison Keillor’s Lake Wobegon.
McClain has just finished his first children’s picture book, “The Rock Collector.”
“I worked on the illustrations for about a year,” he says, “in addition to writing the poetry.”
The book will be out this fall, in time for the holidays.