Through the Fire 11

Shane Clouse Makes a Difference with His Music

A sign at the Bluebird Café in Nashville reads, “It takes years to become an overnight success.” Native Missoulian and singer-songwriter Shane Clouse read it every time he threw his name into the hat at “Writers in the Round” nights. “I was scared but I knew I had to push myself to get better,” he says, “and this was the best place to do the growing.” Clouse grew. And came back to Montana, where he’s making a difference with his music, running the family business Pink Grizzly Greenhouse, and playing zookeeper with his wife Kelly on their farm.

Tell us about your latest CD and what you’ve been up to:

Earlier this year I took some time away from performing at clubs to finish my latest CD Through the Fire. The record has 11 originals and two covers I’ve always wanted to record. It is my best work to date and has some of the finest musicians performing on it. And I also decided to take time for my wife Kelly and me. We bought a farm in 2014 and I am working to enjoy that new part of our lives, but music is always intertwined in my life. There would be no music without Kelly. She inspires me and pushes me to keep the “fire” alive.

I also just ended my “Through the Fire” tour in Napa, Calif., where I performed an annual concert called “Montana Matters.” The concert raised funds for projects such as my Teller Wildlife Refuge “2016 Youth Outdoor Conservation and Education Expo,” which brings over 30 conservation groups together to benefit area youth; it’s totally free to the youth and their families.

What and who inspires/influences your music?

My music is what I would call Americana, and I am inspired by the people and the world around me, particularly nature. Nature is unspoiled and unblighted yet brutal and unforgiving. It is beauty, rage, peace and passion all at once.

My influences are Beethoven, Sting, Waylon Jennings, Rogers & Hammerstein, Alice in Chains. Quite an eclectic collection of musical interests.

How’d your music get involved with the Montana Outdoor Legacy Foundation?

Seven years ago I wrote a song called “Montana Matters” in support of conservation and to bring people together to protect nature and Montana’s agrarian way of life. I’ve always believed agriculture and conservation go hand in hand. The song opened up many new doors for me to perform in support of different conservation groups including Montana’s Outdoor Legacy Foundation. MTOLF shares my vision of farmers, ranchers and conservationists working together to preserve agriculture, wild things and wild places. That is what makes Montana so unique. For instance, many Montana farmers and ranchers allow hundreds of elk and other wildlife to graze their valuable hay fields and pastures. California is a beautiful state with much suitable habitat, but I doubt any grape farmer would allow 400 head of elk to graze their crops. Montana farmers and ranchers support our state’s vast wildlife resources, and I believe they are underappreciated for doing so.

Annie Oakley is such a cutie, but you call her Froggy. What’s that all about? Who’s her friend?

Annie Oakley is my Kelpie’s registered name. She crawls around like a frog when she plays with me, so I nicknamed her Froggy. I love to work with animals. I have a couple rescue horses and cats as well. I don’t really have a farm; it’s becoming more of a zoo. Froggy’s friend is Buttercup. My wife Kelly named her after the first flowers of spring. She is extremely tame due to the copious amounts of attention she receives and the daily hand feedings, and she will grow up on our farm to become a mother cow and produce beef for our family.

What’s next for you?

October and November brought hunting season, and I took my pack string into the wilderness a few times to recharge before our Christmas tree and wreath season. One of our companies, MontanaWreaths.com, ships wreaths all over the U.S., and the season is short and intense. And in January I will be traveling to Reno, Nev., to perform for the Wild Sheep Foundation’s Sheep Show, an international hunting and conservation expo. But I will be performing several gigs in Western Montana to keep up my “chops,” so keep an eye out for my gig calendar on my website: 
ShaneClouse.com.