Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Gary Clark, Jr. on SNL

Sorry Kanye, Paul Simon, Greta Van Fleet... Gary Clark, Jr. is the first great musical guest of this season of SNL and his performance last Saturday will hopefully bring him the widespread recognition he deserves.

The guy isn't a Stevie Ray Vaughan-type, and if you're looking for guitar aerobics you're better off listening to Joe Bonamassa. Gary Clark, Jr. has a more rustic approach. But this isn't Delta blues by any means. And he does rip it up on the guitar. But his attack is closer to post-modern blues-rockers like the White Stripes of the Black Keys. He's not here to flaunt his virtuosity.

He played two songs from his upcoming album This Land: the first one is called Pearl Cadillac and is the best Prince song Prince never wrote, complete with funky keyboards, falsetto vocals and seemingly lascivious lyrics. 

The second one called My Land, which was already released as a single, is a take on the Woody Guthrie classic updated for the Trump age through the eyes of a black man. An ominous, distorted, heavy tune played with absolute intent and commitment, culminating in a fierce solo that tore the roof off 30 Rock.

It's been six years almost to the day since I saw him at the New Morning club in Paris supporting his second album Blak And Blu. His new record is due March 1st, and he is already touring behind it and will be for quite a bit. Catch him if you can: he is the first authentic guitar hero of 21st Century Blues.

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