by Justin Trudell
During one of my many YouTube deep dives around the summer of 2012, I stumbled upon the 2010 Crossroads Guitar Festival, a blues event hosted by the legendary Eric Clapton. The festival featured B.B. King, Buddy Guy, John Mayer, Jeff Beck, and, you guessed it, Eric Clapton. Even though I watched an entire show stacked with blues legends, the only musician I can remember seeing was a young unknown guitarist who played an absolutely jaw-dropping song called, “Bright Lights.” His name: Gary Clark Jr.
Who the fuck was that? Where can I buy his album? TAKE MY MONEY!
After throwing a wad of cash at the first record store employee I could find, I finally had my hands on Gary Clark Jr.’s debut, Black and Blu. I was awestruck by track after track of the dirtiest, fuzziest blues music ever to penetrate my ears. Every song on his album gave me that spine-tingling delight you only get from discovering a musician who breathes new life into you.
Needless to say, I jumped on the first chance I had to see him perform in Detroit (St. Andrew’s Hall, 2014). It was everything I hoped it would be. The guitar licks were loud and filthy, the lyrics were smooth and intense, but he retained a cool, calm and collected stage presence reminiscent of a blues legend who’s been wowing audiences for 50 years. The show gave me a feeling more powerful than listening to an album ever could.
You don’t forget the first time you see someone as great as Gary Clark Jr., I never have, and you won’t either when he blows the roof off The Fillmore on July 21.