|Gary Clark Jr.
||Bowery Ballroom NYC
Gary Clark Jr. ♣ Gary Clark Jr. 6.7.16 Bowery Ballroom NYC
♣ Words by Audra Tracy | Photos by Joe Russo
Ξ•Ξ Sunday’s storm may have halted the third day of Governors Ball, but every rain cloud has a silver lining. And sometimes silver linings involve a budding blues icon playing a 600 capacity venue on a day’s notice.
Ξ•Ξ Gary Clark Jr., who was scheduled to perform at the festival, consoled disappointed Ballers by booking a last~minute make~up gig at the intimate Bowery Ballroom on Tuesday night. Announced just a day in advance, and this hot~ticket show sold out quick.
Ξ•Ξ “Welcome back to New York!”, a fan shouted as Clark and his band took the stage. Never a man of many words, the headliner strapped on his guitar and tipped his cap to the crowd before opening his set with the breakthrough hit, “Bright Lights, Big City”.
Ξ•Ξ Together the four~piece performed songs from 2015’s, The Story of Sonny Boy Slim, each tune acting as a vehicle to Clark’s slow~burning guitar solos. The set moved at a pretty chill pace, with more uptempo tunes like “Ain’t Messin’ Around” and “Don’t Owe You a Thang” mixed in to keep the energy electric.
Ξ•Ξ Song after song, the blues just coursed through this man’s veins, from his signature hat to his pinky ring, all the way to his black leather boots. At times during his solos, he seemed like a man possessed, his eyes shut as he mouthed along to the electric riffs that echoed from his axe.
Ξ•Ξ Clark was clearly the man of the hour — from the audience to his own cohorts on stage, all eyes were on him. During an especially intense interlude, some captivated fans at Bowery began to shush the crowd — an act that finally got Clark to crack a smile before encouraging everyone to loosen up a bit.
Ξ•Ξ “Let that out”, he said to his mesmerized congregation. “That’s what we’re here for.” Ξ•Ξ http://www.thewaster.com/
♣ A 2015 reply is offered on the all~consuming space~age funk of “Star.” “I am devoted to seeing you shine on,” could be a message in falsetto from Clark to those babies, his country, his family, and his innermost self. With a musical palette as gracious and glorious as Gary Clark Jr’s, the target is most likely all of the above. As Clark put his mojo in full motion on the album’s opening track, “The Healing”, he eloquently states his subtle and underlying theme that “this music” is our hope, faith and ultimate healing.
ORIGIN: Austin, TX
BORN: Feb 15, 1984
♣ Texas guitarist Gary Clark, Jr. has been compared to guitar icons like Jimi Hendrix and Stevie Ray Vaughan, and his playing is a powerful and inspired mix of blues, contemporary soul, and hip~hop, and when he’s rolling at his best, he sounds like nothing so much as a natural hybrid of both the past and the future of the blues. Born and raised in Austin, Texas, Clark first picked up a guitar at the age of 12 and spent his teens playing whatever gig he could get in the Austin area. He eventually met Clifford Antone, promoter and owner of Antone’s, the city’s premier blues club, who began featuring Clark at his venue. An amazing live performer, Clark soon became one of the brightest players on Austin’s blues and rock scene. He released an independent album, 2005’s Tribute, followed by a pair of self~produced albums in 2008 for Hotwire Unlimited, 110 and Worry No More. An EP, Gary Clark, Jr., also appeared from Hotwire in 2010.
♣ But Clark was far from just a one~trick pony guitar gunslinger. He could also sing, write, and arrange. He wrote the original score for the film Full Count and also appeared as an actor in John Sayles’ 2007 film Honeydripper. In 2010, Clark was selected by Eric Clapton to perform at the Crossroads Guitar Festival, and a DVD of the show featuring Clark led to a recording deal with Warner Bros. Clark was soon in the studio working on his major~label debut. An EP called Bright Lights was released in 2011 in advance of the new album, Blak and Blu, which appeared in the fall of 2012. His next release was the impressive two~disc Live, recorded during an 18~month~long tour behind Blak and Blu, and Live better represented Clark’s wild, impassioned, and often elegantly graceful live sets. After more touring, including dates opening for the Rolling Stones and the Foo Fighters, Clark released his second major~label studio set, 2015’s The Story of Sonny Boy Slim. The album debuted at eight on the Billboard charts and ♣ Clark supported it with an extensive tour that was documented on the 2017 album Live North America 2016. ~ Steve LeggettThe Bright Lights — EP
RELEASED: Aug 8, 2011
♣ Precocious young guitarist Gary Clark Jr. graduated from Austin’s venerable juke joint circuit with the release of the Bright Lights EP, a tantalizingly brief four~track release for Warner Brothers that matches two hard charging, muscular blues rock workouts with a pair of understated acoustic recordings. Before the Bright Lights release Clark was best known for his star turn as an itinerant bluesman in John Sayle’s 2007 film Honeydripper, an imaginative reconstruction of the moment when Texas blues was transformed by the introduction of the electric guitar. Clark effectively channels the spirit of Honeydripper’s post~war blues milieu on Bright Lights’ title track, which devilishly borrows the central refrain of Jimmy Reed’s “Bright Lights, Big City” and yokes it to a crushingly distorted guitar riff that could easily have been conceived by latter day punk~blues darlings like Jack White or Dan Auerbach. It is Clark’s repeatedly demonstrated ability to effortlessly execute such unaffected fusions of contemporary influences and classic blues tropes that makes Bright Lights such a compelling listen.
01 Bright Lights 5:24
02 Don’t Owe You a Thang 3:35
03 Things Are Changin’ (Live) [Solo Acoustic] 4:31
04 When My Train Pulls In (Live) [Solo Acoustic] 8:12
℗ 2011 Warner Bros. Records Inc.
BLAK AND BLUE (Deluxe Version)
RELEASED: Oct 16, 2012
♣ Austin’s Gary Clark Jr. grew up in one of the nation’s most musical cities so it’s no surprise just how diverse his influences are. He’s drawing from a world between ‘60s psychedelia and hip~hop song structure. Stylistically, his major label debut offers some fuzztone~drenched blues riffs wrapped around bits of classic rock and R&B. With songs like “Numb” and “Ain’t Messin ‘Round”, he fits more in with the blues crowd that identifies with The Black Keys than any of your Hall of Fame axe~wielders. It’s precisely this element~invoking passion and stripped~down power over licks~that makes Gary Clark Jr. such a fascinating figure.
01. AIN’T MESSIN AROUND 4:09
02. WHEN MY TRAIN PULLS IN 7:45
03. BLAK AND BLU 4:06
04. BRIGHT LIGHTS 5:24
05. TRAVIS COUNTY 3:38
06. THE LIFE 5:05
07. GLITTER AIN’T GOLD (JUMPIN’ FOR NOTHIN’) 4:18
08. NUMB 5:26
09. PLEASE COME HOME 4:16
10. THINGS ARE CHANGIN’ 3:59
11. THIRD STONE FROM THE SUN/IF YOU LOVE ME LIKE YOU SAY 9:37
12. YOU SAVED ME 6:11
13. NEXT DOOR NEIGHBOR BLUES 3:03
14. Breakdown (Bonus Track) 4:10
15. Soul (Bonus Track) 6:15
℗ 2011, 2012 Warner Bros. Records Inc.
THE STORY OF SONNY BOY SLIM
RELEASED: Sep 11, 2015
♣ There’s no question that Austin singer/guitarist Gary Clark Jr. can shred with the best of them. But on his second major~label full~length, it’s his restraint that’s his trump card. He gently dabs the minimalist blues~rocker “The Healing” with little more than a B.B. King~style riff and a poker~hot vocal, keeping the song gorgeously unfussy. Just as expressive is the stomping “Grinder,” which features a literally screaming guitar lick that mimics the line it follows: “My baby’s crying/So now my baby’s crying.”
01. THE HEALING 4:48
02. GRINDER 3:22
03. STAR 4:44
04. OUR LOVE 4:11
05. CHURCH 5:10
06. HOLD ON 3:46
07. COLD BLOODED 3:43
08. WINGS 4:12
09. BYOB 1:00
10. CAN’T SLEEP 3:47
11. STAY 3:44
12. SHAKE 3:17
13. DOWN TO RIDE 7:52
℗ 2015 Warner Bros. Records Inc.
♣ Gary Clark Jr. is one of the most popular and most deserving bluesman working the genre in 2014. Often when somebody reaches Clark’s level of recognition, there’s a temptation to branch out into pop or rock, and Clark has indeed injected his playing with touches of hip~hop and soul, sparingly. But he largely sticks to the electric blues here on this expansive live album. Recorded during an 18~month tour in 2013 and 2014, Live deserves to be the crown jewel in the Texas guitar wizard’s catalog. The blues has always been a live music, meant to be heard in bars and clubs worldwide, with the players improvising on the basic framework until they find a way to somewhere new. The vintage soul groove of “Things Are Changin’” provides a change of pace after the intense blues workouts of Lowell Fulson’s “Three O’Clock Blues” and Robert Petway’s “Catfish Blues.” The medley of Albert Collins’ “If You Love Me Like You Say” and Jimi Hendrix’s “Third Stone from the Sun” provides 10 minutes of blazing inspiration, while Collins’ “If Trouble Was Money” is yet another highlight.
01. CATFISH BLUES (LIVE) 8:00
02. NEXT DOOR NEIGHBOR BLUES (LIVE) 4:06
03. TRAVIS COUNTY (LIVE) 3:42
04. WHEN MY TRAIN PULLS IN (LIVE) 7:10
05. DON’T OWE YOU A THANG (LIVE) 6:12
06. THREE O’CLOCK BLUES (LIVE) 6:23
07. THINGS ARE CHANGIN’ (LIVE) 6:09
08. NUMB (LIVE) 6:13
09. AIN’T MESSIN ‘ROUND (LIVE) 6:36
10. IF TROUBLE WAS MONEY (LIVE) 6:40
11. THIRD STONE FROM THE SUN/IF YOU LOVE ME LIKE YOU SAY (LIVE) 10:27
12. PLEASE COME HOME (LIVE) 6:33
13. BLAK AND BLU (LIVE) 4:03
14. BRIGHT LIGHTS (LIVE) 8:26
15. WHEN THE SUN GOES DOWN (LIVE) 5:44
℗ 2014 Warner Bros. Records Inc.
LIVE / NORTH AMERICA 2016
RELEASED: Mar 17, 2017
01 Grinder (Live) 5:02
02 The Healing (Live) 5:38
03 Our Love (Live) 7:50
04 Cold Blooded (Live) 5:34
05 When My Train Pulls In (Live) 9:30
06 Down to Ride (Live) 7:06
07 You Saved Me (Live) 8:53
08 Shake (feat. Leon Bridges) [with Jeff Dazey] [Live] 4:09
09 Church (Live) 6:02
10 Honest I Do (Live) 3:12
11 My Baby’s Gone (Live) 4:05
12 Numb (Live) 7:18
℗ 2017 Warner Bros. Records Inc.
Twitter: https://twitter.com/garyclarkjr © Gary Clark Jr. performs at the Bowery Ballroom on June 7, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Joe Russo).
|Gary Clark Jr.
||Bowery Ballroom NYC