Music has been deep inside JD Clayton's brain and blood since just about day one.

The Fort Smith native will be the first to tell others that he was destined to sing and play guitar. Some of Clayton's fondest, most vivid memories from childhood involve him playing harmonica for his grandfather's bands and watching his father meticulously learn Jack Johnson songs on a guitar.

"When I was growing up, there would be different events that my grandfather, Johnny Clayton, would take me to with his band," said the 23-year-old Clayton, who lives with his wife, Claire, in Fort Smith. "My grandfather started playing banjo when he was 40 — he is almost 83 now — and I would try to get up and play harmonica with his band."

Clayton then laughed.

"This was when I was somewhere between first and fourth grade," he said before laughing again. "I was awful then. I wasn't even playing the right notes, but I thought I was doing something good.

"And I remember my father, John Clayton, introducing me to almost every musical genre that is available," Clayton added. "My dad's a big Jack Johnson fan, and I remember him playing Jack Johnson's first CD from back in 2001. My dad would listen to that CD in the car and also on the boombox on the back patio. My dad had the tab book open, trying to learn all of those Jack Johnson songs."

Clayton said those memories and many others are sure to flood his brain when he straps on his guitar and stands in front of a microphone for his CD-release party, which will begin at 7 p.m. Nov. 8 at Harry's Downtown, 509 Garrison Ave. The 21-and-older event will celebrate the release of Clayton's debut, Nashville-produced CD, "Smoke Out the Fire," and will include the sale of the CD and JD Clayton T-shirts.

"It's going to be awesome; it's going to be a really good time," said Clayton, who graduated from Southside High School in 2014 and obtained a marketing degree from the University of Arkansas at Fort Smith in May. "I like to say that I'm in the singer-songwriter style, and I play Americana-type music.

"We'll have the Allison Grace Duo opening, and I'll get to play with a full band of musicians and singers from this area," he added. "There's going to be a cake and everything, just like a big party."

Clayton's band that night will include drummer Jeremy Trobaugh, bassist Landon Turner, keyboardist Nicholas McFarland and guitarists Nick Shirl and Grayson Stewart, as well as backup singers Amy Maurer, Cami Testerman and Brandon Bolin. Maurer is Clayton's aunt, while Testerman is a long-time friend.

Also available in digital stores, streaming and on vinyl, "Smoke Out the Fire" was recorded at the Planetarium, a Nashville studio, under the watchful eyes and ears of producer/engineer mixer Thomas Dulin. Clayton's friendship with Dulin began with Clayton's Instagram message to Dulin.

"After I reached out, Thomas answered me," Clayton said. "Thomas has been a tour manager with Drew Holcomb and he has done stuff with Ben Rector. I went out to Nashville in May to meet Thomas, and we had coffee and discussed the vision of the record.

"I told Thomas my experiences in music up to that point, but I needed some help and direction," he added. "Thomas became a mentor and we started recording in June."

Sans a few overdubs of guitar and organ, the CD was recorded live in the studio during one Friday, Clayton said. Nashville session musicians recorded their parts in one room of the studio, while Clayton and his guitar occupied a vocal booth area.

"I felt a lot of pressure because I had known Thomas a couple of months, but I had just met the musicians the morning we recorded," said Clayton, still sounding shocked by the opportunity. "It was the craziest experience, hearing a song that I had originally crafted on my iPhone with voice memos and then hearing it with real musicians in my studio headphones. It was unreal."

Unlike some of his musical colleagues, Clayton still owns his very first electric guitar. The guitar previously was owned by Oreo Blue guitarist-singer Gary Hutchison and at the time was being sold for $200.

"It was a guitar made from a guitar line from Arlington, Texas, and I didn't have quite enough money," Clayton said with a laugh. "I remember walking into the guitar shop that Gary owned and I was carrying this jar full of change and crumpled-up dollars. I saved a little bit more and bought Gary's old guitar."

Clayton paused for a few seconds.

"You know, I don't even know if Gary knows that story, to be honest," he said with a chuckle.

These days, Clayton uses his Fender Stratocaster, Fender Telecaster and a Martin acoustic guitar to create music. He also works as a freight broker at Propak Logistics while Claire is studying to become a nurse. 

"I would love to do music in the long-term sense," Clayton said. "The end-goal is to do music when I get comfortable on my feet. I don't foresee music taking off unless I take a step out and risk it.

"So, yeah, that would be the plan," he added. "I'm having fun doing music, but at the same time, I think if I keep working hard at it and put all of my energy into it, I think that I can do this."