Sunday, December 30, 2012


Only one artist made my best of lists in 2011 and 2012 and that's Gary Clark Jr., one of the most exciting new artists in music today.  Last year his Bright Lights EP was my #5 album of of the year, and this year Blak And Blu is my #6.

Yeah, Gary Clark Jr. is a great blues guitarist, and there are other great blues guitarists out there. Kenny Wayne Shepherd, Joe Bonamassa, Jonny Lang.  But I think Gary will have a lot of appeal outside of blues circles, and outside of guitar player circles.  This year I saw him at Metallica's Orion Festival (Kirk Hammett introduced him from the stage) and at Jay-Z's Made In America Festival (Jay-Z and Beyonce watched him from the side of the stage).

So clearly, the man goes beyond the blues scene.  That's clear in the song "The Life" which could be a current R&B hit. "Ain't Messin' 'Round" could have been a hit in the '80s (it seems like an odd choice to lead off his major label full length debut) and then there's stuff that guitar fans can really sink their teeth into: full band versions of "Things Are Changin'" and "When My Train Pulls In" (acoustic versions were on The Bright Lights EP) and great songs like "Numb" (my favorite) and "Travis County."

People compare him to Hendrix (and he does in fact throw in a bit of "Third Stone From The Sun" on the album, but the way he reminds me of Hendrix isn't simply that he's a great guitar player that mixes blues with something psychedelic, it's the fact that he can go from genre to genre.  If Jimi started out today, I think he'd still be a killer guitar player, but he'd want to be able to do contemporary R&B; he'd want to be able to work in all different styles.  I think that that's what we're going to see from Gary Clark Jr. in the years to come, and that's why he's exciting.  And he'll always be rooted in the blues.

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