Photo by Frank Maddock
Gary Clark Jr. hates the term bluesman. Judging from his brand of music, you would expect this new artist to embrace the label, but being a nasty guitar player is only the tip of the iceberg to this man’s talents. Sort of like a latter day John Mayer, Clark can play many different types of guitar: jazz, blues to straight up balls-to-the wall rock, making it all sound delightfully good in the process.
The Austin-native released a 4-song EP, The Bright Lights EP, last year to much critical acclaim and left many excited about his full-length. Initially slated for release last fall, the rave reviews that accompanied Clark’s EP allowed the label to build upon this success and instead we’re left to wait for the near future to hear what’s to come next.
When we spoke to with the guitarist last year, he was soft-spoken and humble about his early successes. But you can’t judge someone by the way they speak. Clark’s booming, soulful vocals along with a guitar style that’s wowed everyone from Eric Clapton to Alicia Keys show that he’s one of the best gunslingers to play guitar in a while.
“It’s definitely awesome,” he told us last October. “Having all this love is something that’s reassuring.”
In the past, being a guitar virtuoso has appealed to only a small subsection of music fans (think Joe Satriani or Stevie Vai), but Clark’s deft songwriting ability will skyrocket him into the mainstream. Having played Coachella last weekend to rave reviews (which seems to be commonplace these days), he’s slated to play every major festival in the States this summer, including the New Orleans Jazz Fest, Sasquatch and Bonnaroo, all of which ain’t too shabby.
It’s surprising to hear that a musician like Clark has captured the hearts and minds of music critics and fans alike. Though he has one of the earliest timeslots on his Friday performance, he may not get the crowds that he deserves. However, the one thing that is certain is that whoever catches this up-and-comer, won’t be disappoint with the music they hear emanating from the stage and who knows, this could be one of those “I remember where I was when” or “I saw Gary Clark Jr. when he was the first act at Coachella” moments that could go down in music folklore.