The Real Deal

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New album from Colorado DOT driver Cliff Douglas builds on the work of trucking-music greats.

“Jake and Mary’s Colorado Club,” the name of the sixth track on Vail, Colo.-area resident Cliff Douglas’ new Truckin’ Country record, immortalizes what Douglas describes as a roadhouse about 10 miles west of Grand Junction, Colo., near the Utah line in a town called Mack.

“If trouble broke out, it took the cops 45 minutes to get there, so it was usually over by the time they did,” Douglas says.

The 49-year-old was a regular onstage at the roadhouse in the 1970s. “Jake actually taught me a lot about music,” he says, after Douglas’ own father, Cliff Jr., also a guitar picker and singer, taught young Cliff III everything within his own technical repertoire by the age of 14. “That’s when he took me to meet Jake,” Douglas says.

What followed was two decades of near full-time musicianship, playing local gigs and opening for several large acts from the ’70s to the middle ’90s. All the while, of course, he drove truck when he needed to. When the drunk-driving laws took on their current zero-tolerance character, Douglas says, his gigging career sunk with many of the music venues he played, including Jake and Mary’s. “In the middle ’90s the drunk-driving laws made it so that you couldn’t make that $500 to $700 a night you could before,” he says, “so I took to driving trucks full-time.” Today he drives and does other work for the Colorado Department of Transportation. But of course that doesn’t mean he ever stopped playing.

“Over the years, I’d made some friends in high places in Nashville,” he says, “studio musicians. I said to myself, ‘I think that we could make a truck-driving music album that