Gary Clark Jr: Don't Owe You A Thang
He may be tagged as the saviour of the blues, but one thing’s for sure: Gary Clark Jr is going to save it in his own damn way.
Some people are born cool. Some achieve cool. And some, to paraphrase the bard, have cool thrust upon them. With Gary Clark Jr, you suspect it’s a mixture of all three. We’re not talking about the way he slides into the room at his record label’s Kensington offices, peels his aviator shades off and shakes your correspondent’s hand with a laconic grin before folding into a recline on a black leather sofa. We’re not specifically referring to the casually torn jeans covering his lean, skinny frame (how do musicians get like this? What do they eat?), faded T-shirt, Chelsea boots and trilby hat, or the gold watch that suggests his days of playing by candlelight because he couldn’t pay his electric bill are long behind him. We’re talking about the fact that this is a man who has always seemed to know the right thing to do. A man who seems to have seen the creative path unfolding before him at an early age, and who has let no one divert him from it.
It’s the same poise and self-possession that saw him take it effortlessly in his stride when his hometown mayor called May 3, 2001 ‘Gary Clark Jr Day’, when the young guitar ace was just 17, and to turn down offers of record deals in his early 20s when 99 per cent of his contemporaries would have snatched at the first contract on the table. It’s the same confidence that saw him get up on stage as an unknown and make an instant international name for himself in the midst of Eric Clapton’s all-star line-up at the 2010 Crossroads Guitar Festival in Chicago. And it’s the same singleminded vision that has now driven him to self-produce The Story Of Sonny Boy Slim, the follow-up album to his 2012 breakthrough set Blak And Blu. Playing most of the instruments, he further mixes up grit-flecked blues guitar rock with smooth soul and funk stylings, despite his core fanbase often calling loudly and zealously for him to stick to the former approach. Yeah, Gary Clark Jr would appear to be one cool customer.