If you were at Gary Clark, Jr.‘s first show in Austin, Texas 14 years ago and asked the guitarist what he was doing there, he might have said “I’m playing a gig” or “Building my resume.” Unless he was a prophet, or just plain pompous, I’m pretty sure he wouldn’t have told you “I’m saving the blues” or “I’m getting ready for Lollapalooza.” Yet, recently, that’s exactly what the soulful guitarist has been up to. Touring and performing everywhere around the US – from Lollapalooza to Bonnaroo to Jay‘s Made in America Festival to Late Night With Jimmy Fallon — Gary Clark has without a doubt lived up to the lyrics that open his newest album, Blak & Blu: “I don’t believe in competition/Ain’t nobody else like me around.” Indeed, he is establishing himself so much as a successful Black artist that he may soon embody Hov’s regal trinity: Black excellence, opulence, decadence.
Quinn Peterson of Life+Times recently sat with the rising (risen?) star to talk about the ups and downs of recent success, how he manages to forefront the blues amidst the other sounds in his music, his musical influences, and much more. Here’s wahat GCJ had to say when Peterson asked about hip-hop’s influence and impact on his music:
“The production process of hip-hop has [impacted me the most]… I was really intrigued and impressed with how guys could take music, old records and put their stories on it. That process and reaching back to what came before you, showing that same love, then putting your own thing on top of it. That made a big impact on me, and I think that’s why in a lot of my shows and on my records I reach back and do something like “Next Door Neighbor Blues” then jump in and do something like “The Life,” it all makes sense to me.”