It’s normal for a young upcoming artist to go through some packaging and maturation from first being noticed paying their dues and honing their skills in earliest bar gigs seen by a few, to the global media promotion of the act and a new album. Gary Clarke Jr is no different. Good and loud and already mellowing I said back in 2009/10.
Gary is maturing nicely and rhythm guitar Eric Zapata is repackaged as the coolly shaded “King”. The combination is an magical injection of fresh blood into what is after all good ole blues done right.
I’ve reported many times on acts I’ve seen on my travels, even from pre-punk 70’s days before the internet. That in itself a random selection of who happened to be playing where and when I was there, and word of mouth or gig-guide scans of what’s to see. The maybe 5 to 10% that become ones to watch (for me) both on future travels or from afar, rarely translates into a tip for actual success and wider exposure, there are just too many vagaries and arbitrary business events in that chain. Gems remaining hidden have their own value too, but it’s good to see a flowering in public.
Given that Gary Clark Jr is trading the blues, and probably every other act or genre since, from folk to the heaviest rock including any number of electro variants, has derived from there, it always feels important when a raw blues act takes the big time back to its roots. Particularly poignant for me the second time I saw Gary and Eric, first time as the headline act, in Antones, Austin Tx, it had been a purely random circumstantial word of mouth chance I’d found myself nearby in the hour before. What’s more, blues original Pinetop Perkins who’d agreed “Yeah, this boy mighty fine, he’s going places”, apparently a long time regular seated anonymously left of the stage at Antone’s, passed away only a few months later.
Good to see sign’s of big time success for Gary carrying the blues torch forward, here’s hoping he get’s the appreciation he deserves from his appearance on Later with Jools this week. Catch him if you can.
[PS – Tom / PsyJr – he’s playing US East Coast gigs at the start of November, if you’re still in NYC try to catch him nearby, NYC gigs already sold out.]
[PPS – don’t miss the harmonies in video of the guitar duet outro from Numb. The missing link between Pinetop and Satriani maybe ? On no, I forgot, that’s either Billy Gibbons or Slim Hamster, but you get my drift, a lot of links in that chain, not least Hendrix. With acknowledgement to Johnny Marr for the missing link reference, Roy Harper between Syd Barrett and John Lennon.]
[PPPS – And here he was about this time October 2013 at Clapton’s Chicago Crossroads festival.]