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Clayton feels most alive when he’s with his grandfather, Cool Papa Byrd, and the band of Bluesmen—he can’t wait to join them, just as soon as he has a blues song of his own. But then the unthinkable happens. Cool Papa Byrd dies, and Clayton’s mother forbids Clayton from playing the blues. And Clayton knows that’s no way to live.
Armed with his grandfather’s brown porkpie hat and his harmonica, he runs away from home in search of the Bluesmen, hoping he can join them on the road. But on the journey that takes him through the New York City subways and to Washington Square Park, Clayton learns some things that surprise him.
Clayton Byrd Goes Underground is the trembling wail of a harmonica, the deep beat of drums, the salty riff of strings—all the familiar notes combined in a fresh tune. When Cool Papa is gone, Clayton turns to the blues because he needs them more than ever. Rita Williams-Garcia’s lyrical writing captures the music that drives him in this timeless tale exploring the nuances of grief in an intergenerational family, with a blues soundtrack shimmering underneath.