Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Gary Clark, Jr. : These Boots Are Made for Rockin'

Last night Gary Clark, Jr. and band members played the Clive Davis Theater at The Grammy Museum after a video of Gary's sizzle reel for his album Blak and Blu and a discussion with Gary and his manager Scooter Weintraub, which was moderated by the museum's Scott Goldman.

Scooter, left (whom I saw checking out the Ringo Starr exhibit pre show), first experienced Gary at the 2010 Crossroads Guitar Festival, which Scooter produces.  Eric Clapton had asked him to book Gary.  Scooter didn't know what to expect, but he said it became clear that Gary was the most impressive new artist at the event that year.  So he told the musician, "If you ever need any help...."  Scooter said he pitched Gary to record labels as an artist who is "leaning in front of the song," as opposed to one who lets the (hit) song lead.  (They signed with Warner Bros.)

My 2012 post on Gary went into his early influences and his start in his hometown of Austin, so I won't reiterate that history here, which Goldman also elicited.  Gary did share his early vision of himself:  "I wanted to be Snoop Dogg meets John Lee Hooker."  

The current band consists of guitarist Zapata, Gary on guitars and vocals, Johnny Radelat on drums, and Johnny Bradley on bass.

Here's the set list from the show:

1.  Ain't Messin' Around
2.  When My Train Pulls In
3.  You Saved Me
4.  Things Are Changin'
5.  Please Come Home
6.  Travis County
7.  Numb

Numbers 2 and 7 slayed me, particularly in the small venue with its great acoustics and a clear line of sight from my seat in the second row, and no tall people with phone cameras in front.  I only wish the museum had allowed Gary time for my favorite, Bright Lights, his debut song that had wowed everyone at the Crossroads Festival.  (At one point Gary said, "It's gettin' real hot up here.  I've been thinking about taking off my jacket, but I don't want to spend the time.  So that's what's goin' on up here."  And he gave us that smile.  Everyone laughed, but later I realized that the museum must impose a time limit on performances, because Gary seemed inclined to give the audience another song when everyone clamored at the end, but Scott Goldman jumped back up onstage and whisked the band off, alas.)

I also really dig Gary's boots (John Varvatos?), which he has worn for all three of his shows I've seen in the past year.  The photo of them at top was taken at Gary's sold out Wiltern show on 9/26 by my friend and concert buddy Linda Wake-Garza, rock photographer extraordinaire (to whom I'm indebted for alerting me to Gary's music).  I should add that Gary's current tour is completely sold out.

So, a lot of disappointed music lovers will have to wait until the Gary Clark, Jr. train pulls in once again.

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