photo courtesy of Teka Larson 

An Evening at The Winery with The Clay Halos

May 3, 2024

by brooke wagner

On the edge of a riverbank, rich earth mingles with fresh water from flowing streams to form clay. This sought after substance can either be pliable and easily shaped into the desired product, or, once dry, strong enough to hold its shape, lasting long beyond expectations. In the rugged landscapes of Montana, where wild winds can whisper secret messages among the trees or shout from the hilltops, a musical trio has emerged and proven to be as pliable and strong as its namesake. Teka Brock Larson, Ryan Riley and Andy Dompier are “The Clay Halos.” This edgy country group croons Americana style country music anywhere they can find an audience, from local restaurants and bars to ropings and rodeos. 

Although they have been making music together for awhile, it hasn’t always been sweet harmony. Larson says, “I lost my voice for almost 4 years, and just started singing again last winter. I visited multiple ENT specialists and even did speech therapy. No one really knows why it happened.” Larson has been singing and performing ever since she was a little girl, so this mysterious ailment was particularly devastating to her. She recalls fond memories of singing along to her parents’ Dolly Parton and Marty Robbins records as she finished her chores. Her previous band, The Teka Brock Band, traveled and recorded three albums all while she attended the University of Wyoming on a rodeo scholarship. In 2017 Larson was on the hunt for a guitar player, and found Riley through a mutual friend. Their styles complemented each other perfectly, and The Clay Halos were born. After a few gigs they discovered that, in Larson’s words, “we needed some bottom end and someone to keep our rhythm honest!” Riley’s friend and former bandmate Dompier brought the bass, and the rest, as they say, is history.

Listening to the trio, it’s hard to tell where one melody ends and another begins. Larson and Riley weave guitar chords, lead lines, and lyrics together so seamlessly that you’re transported to a place where the music is all that matters. Whether they are covering a classic Dolly Parton tune, or a jazzed up version of Alan Jackson’s “Freight Train,” Larson’s strong, throaty vocals and Riley’s driving guitar rhythms are music to the ears. You can’t help but tap your toe along with the beat of the bass, but only until they ease into a slower ballad as smooth as a snow covered Montana prairie in the dead of winter.  

The Clay Halos are gearing up for a show at Yellowstone Cellars and Winery on Friday, May 3, at 7:30 p.m. With an extensive list of wine offerings and flatbreads, the Winery invites you to savor an evening of unforgettable food, drink, and entertainment. Larson is thankful to once again hold her guitar and mic in hand, crediting “lots of prayer” with her return to the stage. You won’t want to miss the music of these three modern-day troubadours, weaving tales of love, loss, and freedom under the wide-open and starry Montana skies. 

Follow the band on Facebook to keep in the know on their upcoming shows! 

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