Buddy Guy claims, “He’s as good as it gets” while Eric Clapton has gushed…”You make me want to play again”.
They’re all talking about Gary Clark, Jr., the 30-year guitar slinger from Austin, Texas who was named “Best Young Gun” by Rolling Stone magazine in 2011.
With the release of his major-label debut album, Blak And Blu, in 2012 and a live album in 2014, the accolades have been piling up…a Grammy Award, guest spots with The Rolling Stones, even a performance at The White House.
A listen to Gary Clark’s live album reveals an artist who hasn’t forgotten where he comes from. There are songs from blues heroes such as Albert Collins, BB King and Muddy Waters and performances that have been described as “wild, impassioned and often elegantly graceful”.
Clark grew up in Austin, Texas…the self-described “Live Music Capitol Of The World”. He was jamming at the legendary Antone’s Blues Club with the likes of Jimmie Vaughan, brother of Stevie, while still a teenager. The good folks in Austin recognize a musical talent when they see it, declaring May 3, 2001, “Gary Clark, Jr Day”, when Clark, himself, was only 17 years old.
But there’s more to Gary Clark, Jr than old blues licks. His album, Blak And Blu combines elements of hard rock, funk, soul and hip-hop. Some blues purists objected, but music fans rejoiced, anointing him, “The past and the future of the blues”.
Since then, the soft-spoken guitarist has been traveling the world, spreading the news. His set at Glastonbury in 2013 was hailed as “the most electric performance of the festival”.
New Zealand fans got the opportunity to witness his prowess when he opened for The Red Hot Chili Peppers in January 2013, delivering a short, but searing set. Ever the music fan, Clark was spotted at Auckland’s Powerstation later in the evening, taking in a show by Alabama Shakes.
More recently, Clark appeared on Dave Grohl’s acclaimed Sonic Highways series, sitting in with The Foo Fighters when they came to Austin.
In his 30 years Gary Clark, Jr has accomplished an awful lot, but as anyone who has experienced his playing first-hand will tell you, there’s a lot more to come.