PHOTOS/VIDEOS/WORDS: Gary Clark Jr. @ House of Blues Parish Room – 9/11/11

@ NOLA - 9/11/11 - Photo © Jimmy Grotting

Movin’ On Up

If you were up in the Parish Room last night, or if you’ve seen Gary Clark Jr. before elsewhere, you probably get the same feeling I have that big things are on the horizon for the 27-year old Texan. In fact, almost every single review I’ve read of Clark’s studio and live work mimics this sentiment in some way. Multiple people I talked to bought tickets because they had heard he had gotten a 4-star rating in Rolling Stone (rare for a new/non-mainstream act and even rarer for the mag to review an EP from a relative unknown), while others arrived on Sunday night on the glowing word-of-mouth recommendations of friends who’d seen his mindboggle-worthy live show.

@ House of Blues NOLA - 9/11/11 - Photo by Jimmy Grotting

Hailed by many as the next big talent to revive the blues and deliver it to the masses from a bigger platform, it was apparent within a few minutes of launching into a 12-minute opener “When My Train Pulls In” that we were watching someone spectacular before the world at-large catches word of it. Clark showed a great deal of restraint from engaging in self-indulgent meandering and boring, repetitive trills that so many talented axe men get lost in, and instead spent much of the set nurturing an cool and lustrous tone, riding along the sturdy rhythm section of bassist Johnny Bradley and Johnny Radelat on drums and making those boys put in an honest days’ work to keep up with his next move.

Gary Clark Jr. – When My Train Pulls In (Live – 9/11/11)

Clark looked a tad shy, poised and showed a trance-like focus throughout most of the set, only acknowledging the decent-sized Sunday crowd a couple times during the 90-minute set and cracking a rare smile only a handful of times. Comparisons to Jimi Hendrix and Stevie Ray Vaughan are unfair and miss the mark, as Clark doesn’t quite reach that level of guitar wizardry that those two were capable of. What impressed me most about the Clark was not guitar aerobics and wide-ranging guitar workouts, instead it was his ability to make things look completely effortless, maintaining a placid demeanor while putting out a fully lustrous, turbo-charged tonal blues sound, brimming over with ferocity and passion. Many in the crowd just peered at the front of the narrow room with gaping jaws, seemingly trying to appreciate this chance to see the man up-close-and-personal, knowing full well that next time Clark comes through we may be watching him with binoculars or on the jumbotron screen at the Fairgrounds at Jazz Fest.

If there was one thing in the show that wasn’t quite there, it was the early slower tunes, stripped down to quiet guitar strumming and Clark’s R & B vocals, which would have benefited from a fuller musical accompaniment that would’ve probably helped to enhance the tunes. But the second the band ripped back into the scuzzed-out “Bright Lights” riff, Clark appeared right back in his comfort zone, centered in his Junior Kimbrough-laced wheel house of barroom blues. After closing down the set, the remaining fans summoned the Clark Trio back on stage and were handsomely rewarded by way of a cover of Curtis Mayfield’s 1970 soul classic “Move On Up“, with an interesting, rock-leaning mid-tempo rendition of the tune, very different from the more straight-laced rendition played by My Morning Jacket in recent years. I try not to make this statement too often, but it is only a matter of time before your mom and dad know who Gary Clark Jr. is, and by the looks of some of the folks in the audience on Sunday, a few of them already do. Excited to see him again this weekend at ACL, don’t miss your next chance to see Clark at arms length.

Gary Clark Jr. – Move On Up (ENCORE – Curtis Mayfield)

Check out the full photo gallery from Jimmy Grotting and a couple more videos from the show (including on from Little Freddie King’s opening set) below.

Gary Clark Jr.

Little Freddie King

September 12, 2011 |  by  |  Photos, Reviews, Videos
About the author

Wesley grew up in coastal Georgia and is a former resident of The Music City and The Big Easy where he helped get LMB NOLA off-the-ground after launching in January 2011. Over the past few years, he has also contributed steadily to JamBase and Relix Magazine. Recently, Hodges moved on to L.A. where Abita Beer is hard to find, costs about $6 if located and impromptu parading in the streets will most likely get you arrested on the spot.

 
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