Happenstance starts out the new year on high note with the 'Great White North Tour'

This story originally appeared in Sunday 1/15/06 edition of the Log Cabin Democrat - Conway Arkansas. 
Text copied from http://www.thecabin.net/stories/011506/sty_0115060037.shtml

By CAROL ROLF

It may have been "happenstance" that this trio of acoustic musicians fromConway came together, but the success the group is enjoying is no accident. They work hard at bringing the music they love to their audiences, and they seem to enjoy doing it as well.

Happenstance - comprised of Dan Clanton, Doug Coppock and Brooks Walthall - came together a few years ago after Clanton and Coppock, who both play guitar and sing, attended the Kerrville Folk Festival in Kerrville, Texas.

"Dan and I had been performing solo at Kerrville for many years," Coppock recalled during a recent practice session at Clanton's "stone house," which is a second home of Clanton and his wife, Kaye, and home to traveling musicians when needed. "We were sitting around camp one night with a mutual friend who knew we were both from Conway and asked if we ever performed together. We said no, but that planted an idea in our minds.

"We returned home to Conway and found Brooks, who had recorded a compact disc for Dan a few years ago, was looking for a group to join," Coppock continued.

"I knew Brooks played bass, but I didn't know he could sing as well as he can," Clanton interjected.

"So we got us a bass and formed a trio," Coppock said with a laugh. "We didn't know if we could sing harmony or not, but turns out that we can."

The trio performs mostly original songs, adding a "cover" song from another artist now and then. They have not written anything together as of yet, but may do so in the future. "Right now we each have enough songs of our own," Clanton said.

They perform original songs that mirror their varied backgrounds and influences. According to information from their Web site, Happenstance's repertoire includes "West Texas twang to Delta Blues and everything in between. Happenstance sings songs of everyday people and extraordinary circumstances."

Since its beginnings in 2003, Happenstance has continued to play in and around central Arkansas and beyond. They first performed in September 2003 at The Coffee Beanery in Little Rock. A second gig followed quickly, in October 2003, at America's Concert Series at That Bookstore at Mountebanq Place in Conway.

"We knew about three songs that we could perform together then," Clanton quipped. "The rest was improv."

Happenstance's most recent performance was Jan. 6 at Advent Arts and Acoustic Cafe in Conway. The trio leaves this week on "the Great White North Tour." Performances will include Christo's Pub in Lincoln, Neb., on Friday; the Prairie Wind Folk Association Showcase in Windom, Minn., on Saturday; and the Ames Public Library in Ames, Iowa, on Sunday.

Performances already scheduled for February include Friday, Feb. 17, at Cousin Andy's Coffee House in Carbondale , Ill.; and Saturday, Feb. 18, at the O'Susanna Concert Series in Blytheville. One concert for May is already booked as well - Monday, May 22, at The Burning Bush CoffeeHouse in Corpus Christi, Texas.

"We won't get rich on these tours, but we'll make enough to cover expenses," Clanton explained. "And we'll have a whole lot of fun."

"These are all stops on the Americana music tour," Coppock added. Happenstance plays what is known as "Americana" or folk music.

"We're now being able to play in the better-known places for our kind of music," Clanton said. "Groups with big names are playing before, and after, us."

Collectively, members of Happenstance have more than 70 years of musical experience.

Clanton, who is a consultant "by day," said he "picked around as a kid, but I was nearly 40 before I played in public." He was a co-founder of folksimile, a well-known Arkansas folk-rock band that dissolved in 1996. He released his own CD, "So Far, So Good"- recorded in Walthall's studio, Lo-Fi Recording - in early 1999.

Clanton and his wife, Kaye, who teaches in the Conway School District, have four grown children - Dan Clanton Jr., Kristin Ferryman, Jeff Clanton and Kara Clanton - and three grandchildren.

Coppock, who retired recently from Acxiom Corp., has playing music for most of his life. He started as a member of a rock band in west Texas right out of high school and played and toured with the band, "The Emeralds," for several years.

A regular at the Kerrville Folk Festival since 1984, Coppock was selected as a New Folk Finalist (Kerrville Folk Festival's Songwriting Competition) in 1985, 1987 and 1988. He maintains Happenstance's Web site and is developing a page on the Kerrville festival's Web site related to "new folk finalists."

Coppock's wife, Patty, works in human resources at Tokusen USA Inc. He has four grown children - Laura Eilers, Jeff Coppock, Drew Coppock and Aaron Coppock - and 12 grandchildren, with "one on the way."

Walthall, assistant director of public appearances at the University of Central Arkansas, began playing in college. He received a master's degree in Kentucky, where he played guitar with a bluegrass band, "The Dangling Participles." He then moved to Colorado, switched to bass and played with a group called "The Kind."

A graduate of the University of Central Arkansas, Walthall returned to his alma mater and Conway in 1996. Once here, he helped start an acoustic-rock group, "Marbles," who performed in central Arkansas at festivals, private clubs and other functions.

Walthall and his wife, Anna, who is a speech pathologist, have six children - Christopher, 22, Natalie, 21, Melissa, 19, Jacob, 18, Brooklyn, 4, and Audrey, 18 months.

"The big thing about us is how well we get along," Clanton continued. "We have so much fun when we're together. We like the same kind of music, have the same kind of humor."

"We all love to play," Coppock added. "We all want to stay active with our music and we like to play what we like."

"We've had more success in a short time period than anyone - especially us - expected," Walthall concluded. "It's satisfying to know that people in our genre know us and like us."

Happenstance recently released a compact disc, Happenstance, which was recorded at Raney Recording Studios in Drasco in Cleburne County. It sells for $15 and is available from the group's Web site, www.happenstance-music.com, or from the Web site, cdbaby.com. It's also available from any of the performers. "We'll even hand-deliver it," Coppock laughed.

Happenstance is available for local bookings. Contact Clanton at 329-0413, or e-mail dan@danclanton .com.

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(Staff writer Carol Rolf may be reached at 505-1257 or e-mail carol. rolf@thecabin.net.)