Clay Tyson is a Toronto based singer, guitarist and songwriter who happens to be the son of the legendary folk duo Ian & Sylvia. While he has been influenced by the musical world of his parents, Clay’s music is all his own - earthy, rootsy music that draws on country, rock, and folk influences.
Born in 1966, Clay was immersed in a highly creative environment right from the start. It was not unusual to run into the likes of David Wilcox, Amos Garret, Gordon Lightfoot, Ronnie Hawkins and many others around the house or out at musical or social functions. He began experimenting on the guitar at a very young age, spent two years at the Royal Conservatory for piano, and around the age of nine, took up the bass guitar, which he played with both his parents on and off for many years.
Throughout his adolescence, Clay also performed in several bands with school friends at street festivals and community events around Toronto. Later, he met a group of people who would later be known as Toronto’s Look People. A staple on the Canadian music scene for years, Look People played what might be called “demented jazz circus orchestra music.” The band featured top players such as Toronto drum legend Great Bob Scott and Kevin Hearn (currently of The Barenaked Ladies). Led by local media icon Jaymz Bee, Look People went on to tour Canada, Europe and the U.S. for seven years (from 1985 to 1992). During this time, the band released an EP, a vinyl LP, and a CD, all of which Clay contributed to in the roles of writer/arranger, bass player and background vocalist.
After leaving Look People, Clay continued as a much-in-demand sideman, playing bass with various musicians around Toronto. During this time, he contributed his talents as a bass player and arranger on two albums with the legendary Canadian comedy troop, Corky and the Juice Pigs. By 1994, Clay had decided to retire the bass and concentrate on his own writing and acoustic guitar playing. He began honing his talent by performing solo at local bars and open stages, eventually recording his debut CD, Kick It Down, with one of Sylvia’s ex-guitar players, multi-Juno award winner Danny Greenspoon. Kick It Down offers twelve finely crafted songs, and features stellar performances by the Breit Brothers (Kevin on guitar, Gary on keyboards), Chris Gartner, Gord Fynes, Leah Salomaa, and Helena Kamika - not to mention Clay himself.
As a solo musician, Clay has it all. He is a soulful, expressive singer with a subtle sense of phrasing and a deep rich tone. His guitar style can range from fast, sharp and clean to languid and pretty; from a warm gospel feel to folk finger-picking to a thumb-busting unplugged-Hendrix groove. And he is a songwriter of considerable talent who writes about day-to-day romantic struggles; keeping your faith and your head above water; and more.