Long before Shaun Hague knew that he not only looked like Eric Clapton but sounded like him, the English rock and blues guitarist, singer and songwriter was the single biggest influence on his career.
Hague started playing guitar at age 12, inspired by Clapton’s music. He dove into all things Clapton, which became a rabbit hole leading him to many other musicians that Clapton collaborated with and was influenced by.
“I got deep into who Clapton is and was,” Hague said by phone recently. “And on some levels we kind of think the same way — small stuff like he loves chocolate, I love chocolate.”
At age 17, Hague was named “The Best Young Blues Guitarist” by The House of Blues, and by 21, he was touring with some of the best musicians in the business. Having moved to Los Angeles at 19 to pursue a career in music, two years later he auditioned for blues star Kenny Wayne Shepherd and his career took off.
“I was a sideman,” Hague explained. He was on stage with musicians like Amos Lee and John Waite, and stayed on that path for a decade. But, 3½ years ago, he reached a turning point in his 17-year career. And “Journeyman: A Tribute to Eric Clapton” was born.
It made sense to create a tribute show to the person who influenced him the most, and that’s what Hague decided to do. In just 3½ years, “Journeyman” went from small local clubs in its first year to nationwide tours. It’s the only nationally touring tribute to Clapton, and it arrives at the Paramount Theatre in Rutland at 7 p.m. Friday, Nov. 22, also featuring Kofi Baker and the music of Cream.
“I love Clapton,” Hague, now 36, said. “He’s the reason I play guitar. And I just happened to look and sound like him. Everyone’s got their one or two people that they go to with their instrument when they’re starting out, and for me it was Clapton. I know too many of his songs, probably.”
After following him so closely for most of his life, seeing Clapton live “a million times,” and “watching a million videos” on YouTube, there might be no better person qualified to present a tribute show. From “Tears in Heaven” to “Change the World” and “Layla,” Hague has more than 50 years of Clapton’s music to choose from, and he covers it all.
“This is a really special show because we’re combining two shows into one,” Hague said. “Kofi Baker has the music of Cream which he tours with, and I play Clapton, which covers his entire career.
“The band is at the top of their game, so I’ve been able to fluctuate our set list night after night,” Hague concluded. “So we’re not doing the same thing day after day. It’s one of a kind, and it’s going to be really special.”