Gary Clark Jr. may be the future of blues. His sound stretches widely covering various genres so squeezing him into the compacted box of one genre isn’t fair, but it’s clear blues is in his soul. This month’s YOK artist has been making music for years although he’s fairly new to the mainstream eye. His talent supersedes his young 28 years enough for an invitation to play at the White House. On February 21, GCJ played at the “In Performance at the White House: Red, White and Blues” alongside legends like B.B.King, Buddy Guy and Mick Jagger. And sharing a joke with the president turned this into a dream gig of a lifetime for the guitar player and singer. Read more…
President Obama has flexed his larynx yet again, this time singing a few lines of Robert Johnson‘s “Sweet Home Chicago” during a concert at the White House yesterday. We first heard the President sing Al Green’s “Let’s Stay Together” at a fundraiser last month, and admittedly, the snippet of Obama’s vocal ability left us, and apparently even American Idol, hankering for more. So when he was baited by Buddy Guy (who was part of an All Star Band including B.B. King, Booker T. Jones, Mick Jagger and Derek Trucks), who said “I heard you had sung Al Green, so you started something so you gotta keep it up!” Obama, although reluctant at first, had little choice but to belt out a few lines from “Sweet Home Chicago”. Look out for the pretty amazing moment when Obama holds the microphone out to B.B. King, and the two have a brief back-and-forth style sing-a-long.
On Tuesday night, the wildly talented musician and singer Gary Clark Jr. stood in with The Roots on Late Night With Jimmy Fallon, jamming on his guitar and singing “Bright Lights” from his newly released four-song EP of the same name. Earlier that night, a showcase for the Austin, Texas native was held in swanky Soho House in New York City, and a who’s who of music execs, critics and press were in attendance. Naturally, when we heard that Clark was performing at Rockwood Music Hall last night, we had to go check out his show; while he came to play a short acoustic set for VH1 staffers last month, you could tell he was holding back the some of the nastier funk that comes along with being backed by a rhythm section.
Sure enough (and much to our delight), last night’s 75-minute set was impressive to a staggering degree. At age 27, Gary has already been compared to some of classic rock’s greats, invoking the guitar chops of Clapton and Hendrix and, with a broad vocal range, he’ll purr an Eddie Kendricks falsetto one minute and growl a B. B. King guttural tone the next. The music he unveiled crossed blues and soul with elements of jazz, funk and hip hop, but was also laced with smacking drums and rousing guitar solos that had Clark in a very clear, introverted, eyes-closed zone.
With lyrics like “I don’t owe you a thing, I ain’t buying you no diamond ring” and “If you love me like you say, why you trippin’ like you do?,” it’s clear that Clark holds the blues near and dear to his being. However, his multi-dimensional sonic flavor was embraced by the models, frat boys, music snobs, and hipsters present, which allowed him to flaunt an effortless malleabilty that could be paired well with any of your favorite artists, regardless of genre or time period. ?uestlove was in the house as well, hanging with Zoe Kravitz (who is apparently a longtime friend of Clark’s). And now, on the heels of a glowing Rolling Stone review of his Bright Lights EP, we’re certain that Clark’s star is on the rise, and the young talent has many years and many full-length albums ahead of him.