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Review & photos by Pete SchoenAustin Bluesman Gary Clark Jr. has been seemingly everywhere since the release of his Warner Bros EP Bright Lights. He's traded licks in the White House with blues greats and accompanied Eric Clapton on tour in South America. Pinpointing a sole musical trait to be responsible for his success would be impossible because he has it all! Gary's diversity was showcased in his riveting performance at Milwaukee's world famous Summerfest.
Gary opened his set with a violent growl resonating from his sunburst Epiphone axe that ratcheted the crowds' excitement to a soaring level. The opening tune was titled "If you love me like you say," a Little Johnny Taylor song performed with a Band of Gypsies feel. The churning onset of "Don't Owe You a Thang" had the frontman dodging in and out of beats as though the essence of Dr. Dre were channeled to him by way of Delta. The guitar work also carried an even amount of fat tone and dexterous fingerpicking to anchor all unwary festival goers in place.
Changing things up, Gary rolled in to "Please Come Home," an R&B like song reminiscent of 50's doo-wop. The song was a melding of sweet falsetto and melody that created a dreamy dance tune for all the lovers in the crowd. Not to be fooled by the song bird like tone, Gary's string choking solo made the song bleed tears. The bands steam engine like pulse seemed to complement the frontman's high octane guitar style brilliantly. Gary had a way of holding back on the juicy riffs and focusing on single notes which allowed for the progression of the song to create suspense. This helped to divert the focus of listeners on the space between the notes, before you knew it the song was launched in to a Texas style shredding clinic.
As Clark declares on "Bright Lights," "You gonna know my name by the end of the night." He is a genuine bluesman holding musical skills that are flexible as water and he's steamrolling through venues worldwide. Clark has forged a unique blues infused style of music while creating his own roadmap along the way.
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