I’m being 100% honest when I say I have no idea when I first heard of Gary Clark Jr. I simply can’t remember if I read about him on someone else’s blog (John Mayer’s perhaps) or if someone recommended him to me which is how I discover new music because I do not listen to the radio.
I remember getting an email from Amazon about some digital albums for five bucks and I had about $10 in digital download credits that were going to expire so I browsed their offer, saw a few albums that looked interesting and downloaded them. There were three albums that I downloaded that day…Blue Train by John Coltrane, the Coyote Ugly soundtrack (don’t judge me), and Gary Clark Jr.’s Blak and Blu.
A few weeks later, I was talking to a friend and she asked me if I heard of him. I’d completely forgotten I’d bought the CD and listened to it for the first time while I was at work. I immediately became a fan. I have a good ear…it’s not bragging when it’s the truth. I knew this boy was something serious. From that moment on, I was more excited about Gary Clark Jr. and his music than I was about anything else. I was in love. All I wanted to do was listen to Gary Clark Jr.
In the time that I’ve known about this man, he’s performed with Eric Clapton, John Mayer, Stevie Wonder, and the Rolling Stones! He’s opened for Dave Matthews Band. He’s played Coachella, Bonnaroo, and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony. He’s even played for the Obamas (see videos below)
Rolling Stone Magazine, who confirmed that Jimi Hendrix is “Best Guitarist of ALL TIME”, also declared that Gary Clark Jr. is the “Best Young Gun” in its April 2011, “Best of Rock” issue. He was also SPIN magazine’s breakout artist for the month of November 2011.
Before he even released an album, Gary Clark Jr. performed at the 2010 Crossroads Guitar Festival. Wanna know who else was there? B.B. King, Eric Clapton, Buddy Guy, John Mayer, Sheryl Crow, Jeff Beck, and ZZ Top.
Told you I have a good ear.
Fast forward to October 16, 2013…one week short of the one year anniversary of Blak and Blu. I feel like I’d been waiting on this day longer than I was waiting for John Mayer to tour again.
I arrived at The Tabernacle 30 minutes after the doors opened. The best thing about The Tabernacle is that it is just a wide open floor space and a balcony. Get there early enough, and you can claim a spot as close to the stage as you want…which is exactly what I did. I was so close I broke out into my Beyonce dance.
You see, this was going to be my first time seeing an artist that I adore play live. There’s something really special about the first time. I’ve been to so many Mayer shows that I’ve stopped counting, but I’ll always remember my first time.
I was so excited to see Gary that I couldn’t even sleep the night before. I knew I was going to be in for something spectacular and boy, was it ever.
Gary Clark Jr. is like a massive ball of energy shoved into a tall and slender man, and the only way he can release that energy without exploding is through the moments when his fingers touch his guitar. I’ve seen him live on television but nothing compares to seeing him in action ten feet in front of you. I almost freaked out.
With Gary, there’s not a lot of talking during the show. He goes from song to another like a machine. It’s those moments when you can see that he’s a just a humble Texas boy who’d rather let his guitar speak for itself. I’m sure the reality of people screaming, singing, cheering, and dancing is still a little overwhelming for him. He’s on stage and he’s still living in the moment. He’s still brand new.
I can’t say for sure, but I’m hoping that years in the music business doesn’t change him too much. I’m not naïve. The John Mayer I first saw in 1999 is not the same guy I saw this year. I know Gary is going to grow in this industry and things are going to change, but the essence of Gary Clark Jr., hopefully never changes.
The show itself, was one of the best concerts I have ever been to in my life…I repeat IN. MY. LIFE. He took us on a journey. Not a journey around the world, but his journey, almost the exact same way his album, Blak and Blu, does. No one will ever be able to box Gary Clark Jr. into one single genre of music. And as he played, he showed us his musical influences run the gamut; from the great blues artists like Robert Johnson and Albert King to SRV and Hendrix to R&B to hip-hop to rock and roll.
There were moments when I felt like I was thrown back into the late forties and landed in a blues club. Then the next, I’m at a hard rock concert. It was truly amazing. He puts so much soul into what he does that there were instances when I stood staring at him without moving a single muscle.
Gary Clark Jr. is well on his way to being a huge superstar. His career is just starting. I look forward to whatever he does next because it’s going to be incredible. He is going to be in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame one day. He is going to knock someone off the “100 Best Guitarist of All Time” list.
That is why there were moments while watching him that rendered me completely speechless…in awe of what I was seeing.
I know that on October 16, 2013 I was watching history being made.