Clay Harper (pictured) primarily occupies himself as one of Atlanta’s most enduring restauranteurs, overseeing numerous Fellini’s Pizza, La Fonda Latina and Greater Good Barbecue eateries throughout metro Atlanta. But Clay is also an eccentric musician, songwriter, producer and label owner who notoriously led the wacky band The Coolies in the late ’80s before settling down a bit in the ’90s with The Ottoman Empire and a series of solo singles. He also founded Casino Music as a record label not only for his own stuff but also selected friends including Wreckless Eric and Drivin’ N’ Cryin’.
More recently, Clay has put together a production and songwriting team with Ruairi Kilcullen called Plus Sized Dan, who are the guiding force behind two new, vastly different EPs. The first, a self-titled collaboration with phenomenally gifted Atlanta singer-songwriter Marshall Ruffin, is a soulful, gently-loping, socially-conscious excursion featuring instrumental backup from Atlanta musicians Tom Gray and Mark Johnson (The Delta Moon), banjoist Rick Taylor (Right As Rain), jazz saxophonist Eric Fontaine, bassist Kevin Scott (ringleader of the weekly jazz jams at Atlanta’s Elliott Street Pub) and many more.
The same group backs up gruff-voiced Serbian rocker Milan Mumin on his EP In Case That One of Them Is You, which features three original songs from Mumin and two co-written with Harper and Kilcullen. The offbeat collaboration came about after Harper caught a screening of the indie film Love Hunter, which stars Mumin in the lead role, and sought him out via social media.
Out now, both CDs were recorded in Atlanta, with Grammy Award-winning artist Susan Archie designing the covers.