Gary Clark Jr. is making Austin proud once again. In anticipation of his latest album, The Story of Sonny Boy Slim, Clark performed during an ACL taping for the show’s upcoming 41st season. I cannot quite put into words how energizing and entertaining it is to watch Gary Clark Jr. perform live. But I’ll try.
Early Road to Fame
Despite the fact that Clark is from Austin, has been playing guitar since age 12 and has played in legendary Austin venues, the first time I saw him play was not in Austin. I stumbled upon Gary Clark Jr. at the 2012 New Orleans Jazz Festival. He was performing on a hot Sunday afternoon in the Blues Tent.
It was when he started playing “I Don’t Owe You a Thing” that I asked the people next to me, “Who IS this?” They responded, “You don’t know him? That’s Gary Clark Jr. He’s from Austin!” And from that moment on, in true Baader-Meinhof phenomenon style, I saw Gary Clark Jr. everywhere I looked.
Six months after I “discovered” Clark in NOLA, he released his debut album, Blak and Blu, on October 22, 2012. This album turned heads and earned him two Grammy Award nominations in both the Rock and R&B categories, making him the first artist to be recognized in both categories for the same album. He received a nomination for Best Rock Song, “Ain’t Messin’ Round,” and he received a nomination for–and won–Best Traditional R&B Performance for “Please Come Home.”
Many have been anticipating Clark’s next album and the time has finally arrived. The Story of Sonny Boy Slim—a play on Gary Clark Jr.’s many nicknames—was released early September 2015. Recorded in the renowned and locally owned Arlyn Studios, this album brings things back home to Austin.
Becoming a father had a huge influence on Clark as he wrote and produced this new album, and you can tell. This album isn’t just about sensational guitar solos, although they are still just as impressive. It features a lot more singing from the artist.
Legend in the Making
While I watched Clark perform during the ACL taping in August, I could feel his energy and excitement with every note played. Even though he’s considered one of the most talented blues guitarists of our time, he likes to dabble in rock, soul and punk. His show was inspiring, energetic, entertaining and had me wanting more.
So I’m gonna go ahead and call it now: Gary Clark Jr. will have a statue somewhere in Austin, Texas alongside Stevie Ray Vaughn and Willie Nelson.
My advice to you? The next time you get a chance to see this hometown hero live, go! Because I can assure you he’s one of those musicians of whom you’ll want to say, years from now, “I remember when I saw Gary Clark Jr. play a show at [fill in local music venue here].”
@jpino9 wants to know:
What’s your favorite Gary Clark Jr. song?