Gary Clark Jr. : When My Train Pulls In
Photo by Frank Maddocks
The matchstick-thin Gary Clark Jr. walked onto the stage at the Great American Music Hall in San Francisco this past February to a sold-out crowd singing him “Happy Birthday.” As a cloud of electric guitar noise filled the air in the historic venue, Clark and his backing band quickly laid into the Hendrix-like rock-blues of “When My Train Pulls In.”
During the evening, the audience hooted—and even screamed—as the 28 year old nimbly threaded guitar solos through a set of originals and covers. On an extended jam that folded in Jimi Hendrix’s “Third Stone from the Sun,” the lyrics of Little Johnny Taylor’s “If You Love Me Like You Say,” some Tom Morello-styled guitar scratching and a drum solo, the entire audience seemed to be bobbing their heads at the stage along with a new guitar deity.
Clark’s electrifying blues-rock songs, his versatile vocals and his incendiary guitar solos galvanized the crowd into awe-inspired adulation. What’s interesting is that few in attendance knew much, if anything, about this young Texan musician. He hadn’t released his major label debut Blak And Blu on Warner Bros. Records yet though they goosed consumers’ initial excitement with a four-song The Bright Lights EP. (Prior to signing to Warner Bros., Clark put out two albums and an EP on the Hotwire label. (Half of the songs from Blak And Blu are re-recorded versions of songs previously released.)
While Clark’s only recently gained national recognition, he’s been popular in Austin for years. Locals such as music promoter Clifford Antone (owner of famed club Antone’s) and blues guitarist Jimmie Vaughan Clark (brother of Stevie) saw something special in the young player and offered to help. Clark had racked up multiple Austin Music Awards, and, in 2001, when the guitarist was a mere 17 years old, Austin’s mayor proclaimed May 3 as “Gary Clark Jr. Day” in the city.
It was the potent performance of his original “Bright Lights” at Eric Clapton’s 2010 Crossroads Guitar Festival that first broke Clark to wider audience (and got Warner Bros.’s attention). During the number, the crowd, which had seen countless guitar solos already, stirred to life as Clark repeated the lyrics “you are going to know my name by the end of the night” and let loose with two lit fuse solos. (Fellow Texan guitarist Doyle Bramhall II, who used to play in Clapton’s band, introduced Clark to Clapton, who then invited Clark to the festival.)
“I wasn’t really nervous,” Clark says from Austin, where he’s putting the final touches on Blak And Blue about the invitation to play Crossroads. After a long pause, he confides, “Yeah, I was nervous.”
He continues reminiscing about the transformative experience: “It was the most people I’ve played in front of. All of these [famous guitar] guys are going to be within earshot of what I’m doing. So leading up to the gig was torture for me. But, once I finally got up there and did it, it was an amazing moment.”
Though the backstage at Crossroads was crowded with his music idols, Clark says he didn’t interact much with the musicians at the festival. “I kind of kept to myself,” he says. “I felt like a new kid at school. Like, on day one, I’m supposed to be here, but I don’t really think I quite fit in.”
Soon after Crossroads, it became obvious that things had changed for Clark. “People were curious who I was and where I came from and what I was all about,” he says.
In honor of Umphrey’s McGee’s return to Summer Camp this weekend, we present the group’s Brendan Bayliss and Jake Cinninger performing this version of “The Pequod” from UM’s Anchor Drops.
Dame shares a song from her new EP Preventions of Heartbreak.
Golden Bloom stopped by Relix to perform a tune from their latest EP No Day Like Today.
The Chapin Sisters share an tune from their new album A Date With the Everly Brothers.
Minneapolis-based Night Moves share a song from their record, Colored Emotions, live at Relix.
Cloud Cult share a song from their latest album live at Relix.
The Giving Tree Band enjoy a spring day on the Relix rooftop, while performing a classic Grateful Dead tune.
Canadian singer-songwriter Hayden performs a duet with his sister-in-law Lou Canon. The song appears on Us Alone his first record on Broken Social Scene’s Arts & Crafts Productions.
The Milk Carton Kids share the first song from their new album, The Ash & Clay.
Here is the new video from Serbian guitar ace Ana Popovic. “Object Of Obsession” appears on her latest album Can You Stand The Heat.
- Relix Live Fridays: Trey Anastasio at The Fox
- Grace Potter & The Nocturnals "The Lion The Beast The Beat" (Official Video)
- The Allman Brothers Band Before Gregg?
- The M & Ms: Medeski, Mali, Mercurio, Moore at (Le) Poisson Rouge (A Gallery)
- Brendan Bayliss and Jake Cinninger "The Pequod"
- Trey Anastasio with the National Symphony Orchestra at the Kennedy Center
- More Visions of the Hangout Music Festival 2013 (A Gallery)
- A Blowout for the So So Glos
- Interlocken Festival to Feature Neil Young, Furthur, String Cheese Incident, Black Crowes, Zac Brown and More
- Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers "Friend of The Devil" at the Beacon
- The Salvation of Page McConnell (Relix Revisited)
- Interlocken Adds Widespread Panic and John Fogerty, Furthur to Play Workingman’s Dead
- Warren Haynes and Joe Bonamassa "If Heartaches Were Nickels"
- The Final Ingredient in Dogfish Head’s Grateful Dead Tribute Ale Is…
- Stone Gossard Readies His Moonlander
- Trey Anastasio Band at The Hangout (Video Stream)
- Doctor’s Orders: So what should we call the Super Ball IX Newspaper?
- John Kadlecik Posts Statement on Bob Weir’s Collapse
- "I Wanne Be In moe.": The Latest Volunteers
- Bob Weir Escorted Off Stage During Furthur Show
- Furthur Cancels BottleRock Show as Bob Weir Is Out Of Commision
- Vote for Your Favorite "I Wanne Be In moe." Contestant
- Doctor’s Orders: What’s Your Favorite Furthur Song? (Win Copy of Relix Signed by Phil and Bobby)
- On The Verge Poll