An original member of The Whiskey Benders, Clifton Smith is what some call an “extreme talent.” The Whiskey Benders consider themselves lucky to have him.
“Whats not to like?” Clif says about being a Whiskey Bender. “Great fans, awesome players, gigs, gigs, gigs. How can you go wrong with Jim as your front man!
A well-rounded musician, Cliff first picked up piano at 7 years old, followed by the E flat alto saxophone, which he played in school band. The school environment taught him sight reading, musical dynamics and harmony.
Inspired by his older sister, Cliff was also enamored by the guitar. “My sister played finger-style guitar,” Cliff says. “Time in a Bottle, Dust in the Wind, Jesse James, Stairway to Heaven, John Denver… She had a sweet Martin D-18 and could make it purr. I still remember the tone that guitar had.”
Cliff taught himself to play guitar and has reached uncanny levels of string-bendin’ greatness, captivating even the rowdiest of crowds with his textural, emotional sounds.
His goals include making real “country” music. “In my humble opinion, there are too many Les Pauls and Marshall amps in country music today,” he confesses. “It’s crossed the line into a rock thing, and I guess I’m kinda old school. Don’t get me wrong – I like to rock. But there’s a time and place for everything.”
During spare time, Cliff enjoys buildin’ tube guitar amplifiers and mod guitars.
On Cliff’s personal playlist: everything electric guitar. “A good melody is always where it’s at.”