He also never thought he would have the opportunity to go on the same tour as Willie Nelson.
The 1992 Logansport High School graduate, however, will be touring with Craig Campbell on the Willie Nelson Country Throwdown tour, which kicks off on May 27 in Philadelphia.
“Craig and I had a conversation and we never dreamt the first year out from a record deal we would be touring with the legendary Willie Nelson,” he said. “It’s surreal that we will be in his company.”
Clear works as Campbell’s lead touring guitarist and tour manager.
His tour manager duties include making travel arrangements, seeing that the band and crew are where they need to be, securing tour buses and making sure the production manager has equipment lined up.
“The tour manager oversees all aspects of travel,” he explained.
Clear first became interested in playing music at about 6 years old.His father, Jim, played in weekend bands and would hold rehearsals at the family home.
“I was infatuated with it,” he recalled. “I wouldn’t leave the room when they were there even at 6 or 7 years old.”
Eventually, Jim decided to let his son play drums, purchasing a drum set for Dale when he was 8 years old. Growing bored with the drums, the boy decided he wanted to learn guitar when he was 11.
“As soon as I could fit my hand around it,” he added.
His very first guitar was a custom-made Les Paul, purchased by his dad.
He continued playing guitar in middle and high school, playing in talent shows, the 4-H fair, high school dances and the Fourth of July.
Some of those he played with still live in Logansport. Dale credits those friends with helping him get where he is today.
“Playing in Logansport is where I got my start and learned my craft,” he said. “If I didn’t have the opportunity to play with those guys, I wouldn’t be where I am at today.”
His actual musical career began shortly after high school when he went on the road to play guitar for his brother-in-law, Murl Waddups, who is married to his sister, Kim.
“He was trying to pursue a career in music,” Dale said. “He came to Nashville and cut a record.”
While on the road with Waddups, Dale played with several bigger-named artists. He received encouragement from those artists to play in Nashville.
At 19 years old, Dale married Heather Guy and moved to Nashville in 1994 where the couple lived for one year. While there, he never made it big the first time. He played music at night and operated a roller coaster during the day at Opry Land.
When Heather wanted to start a family, the couple moved back to Indiana, where he didn’t play much music.
“I followed in my dad’s footsteps and had a construction company for eight years,” he said.
Living in Indiana, the couple had three children, Cole, Chase and Cara.
One night, Dale and Heather went to Kokomo to listen to a friend play at a club.
One of the musicians played music by several of his favorite artists.
At the time, Dale hadn’t played guitar for close to eight years.
“He said, ‘Why don’t you come up and play a few songs,’” said Clear. “The juices started flowing and I became excited.”
He started playing music again on the weekends and told Heather he wanted to move back to Nashville and pursue a music career. The family relocated in 2005.
“It’s been a big journey,” he said.
He started hitting the streets of Nashville and playing at different clubs six nights a week. Six months after the move, he landed a job playing for Andy Griggs and stayed with him for one year.
While with Griggs, Clear played the Grand Ole Opry for the first time.
“One of the coolest experiences I had playing with him was at the Grand Ole Opry. We had the opportunity to play on stage with the entire ‘Dukes of Hazzard’ cast,” he said.
Next, he landed an audition and job with Kellie Pickler. He worked as her band leader and tour manager in addition to playing guitar and vocals.
His job included building the band, creating budgets, scheduling and making sure she made all of her appearances. His first four shows with Pickler included a televised Grand Ole Opry show, “The Today Show” and “The View” in New York, followed by a trip to Los Angeles for “The Tonight Show,” all in four days.
After a year and a half, Dale parted ways with Pickler and picked up several gigs for fun.
“I was trying to decide if it was something I wanted to do or not,” he said.
He eventually began working with Chris Young. He played guitar and sang harmony for about six months. Clear didn’t feel the job fit him well though and ultimately decided to move on.
A short time later, Campbell hired him and he’s still with him today.
The two men actually met in 2005, shortly after Dale moved back to Nashville. They were playing the clubs, while Campbell was trying to find a record deal.
Since Dale started his musical career, he has played the Grand Ole Opry nine times. He’s also played every major television show, he added.
“With all that said, I still have to go to work everyday,” Dale said. “I still work for a living and I’m not rich by any means.”
While his mother, Donna, passed away in October, he believes she would be proud of his success. Donna was a huge follower of his music.
Even though he was led away from music for some time, Dale still found his way back.
“Music is just something you can’t get out of your system,” he said. “Once you start playing and get the music inside your body and blood, it’s something you can’t describe. … If I can do something I love, why should I try to make a living doing something I don’t love?”
• Denise Massie is a reporter at the Pharos-Tribune. She can be reached at 574-732-5151 or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.