By Kenny Kerner

If there's one thing to be learned from growing up and living in New York, it's how to hustle. Cliff Mays is a perfect example of a musician who's made a living of pooling his talents, hitting the bricks and coming out on top.

Although there are no other musicians in Cliff's family, he made it a point of stealing his brother's record collection at an early age. It was albums by Santana and Jeff Beck that were inspirational in getting Cliff to pick up the guitar—an instrument he has not since put down. "I must have been about 12 or 13 at the time and I guess I was curious. I've played guitar ever since."

As a child, Cliff studied guitar with the famous Billy Bower who played with jazz great Charlie Parker, among others. "I remember asking Billy to show me how to play songs like 'Bad Moon Rising' and he would say no and start teaching me Coltrain which was a little over my head at the time."

Cliff went through the usual array of high school bands for fun, but as he explains, after that, he quickly began making money making music: "I started hustling and got lots of gigs playing at clubs and playing with other people. I did some recording projects and some touring as well. I made an effort to become a good guitar player and that helped attract some of the gigs I got. I later taught guitar. I practiced a lot and even back in high school I wrote songs. I can't remember the very first one I wrote but one of the early ones was called 'Your Gold Ashtray' and I still play that song today. I don't remember the inspiration for the song but I think it was girlfriend stuff."

Around the time he was attending college, Cliff met his other half—writing partner Michael Corn, with whom he struck up a lasting friendship and partnership. "Everything that was submitted to TAXI was written by me and Michael. I was performing with a band called The Great Red Shark that did a lot of touring and Michael was hired to produce us. It was Michael's production that actually solidified our working relationship. Eventually that band broke up but me and Michael remained together."



Shortly thereafter, Cliff and Michael put together a new band called The Heydevils with some more very competent musicians. But each of these musicians had something in common: they all hustled for a living. They each did whatever it took to get a music gig that paid money—be it recording, doing demos, teaching, touring—no matter. In all of his days as a musician, Clifford never had to work a day job that wasn't related to music. "Heydevils is a fairly new project and I'm hoping that TAXI can help us promote them and get the band's name out there."

And while we're on the subject of TAXI, as it turns out, Cliff was a member of Tonos and hoped to use them to get his music out there. "I was a member of Tonos and there were several other members there that had also heard of TAXI. But after Tonos dissolved, TAXI made us an offer and we joined. We didn't know how their service worked in the beginning so we sent in a couple things to different listings but it seemed the forwards came from the songwriting listings—the publishing stuff and not the band listings. Initially we were very happy about that. You always like to find yourself in a position where you can get some of your songs out there."

Now that he's had some time to settle into the way TAXI works, Cliff explains that he's been very pleased with the results: "Just recently we made a single song deal with J2R Music for a song called 'You Have No Right', thanks to TAXI. At that point, the door was open for us to play other songs for the company and they wound up picking up nine more songs from us. So we're very happy about that. And that's what you want TAXI to do, right? Usually publishers won't accept unsolicited material but TAXI opened that door and now they have nine more of our songs. So we're excited about that and looking forward to some money in the mailbox!"

Well, although TAXI doesn't guarantee you money in the mailbox, they do guarantee to help get your music heard. For writers Cliff Mays and Michael Corn, TAXI came through—again. But keep in mind that it was Cliff's determination to become a good player and his motivation in hustling for gigs that eventually led him down this path. A path that is likely to lead him from the mailbox to the bank!











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