It’s been three years since Austin’s own Gary Clark Jr. has put out a full-length album; until now. The Story of Sonny Boy Slim is set to release on Warner Bros. Records next Friday, Sept. 11. Clark brought it back home Monday night for his second taping of “Austin City Limits” to a packed house at ACL Live.
Along with his usual line-up which consists of his longtime guitarist King Zapata, bassist Johnny Bradley and drummer Johnny Radelat, he introduced some new sounds on stage with him. Trumpet player Derek Phelps and saxophonists Jason Frey and Joe Woullard, and his beautifully talented backup singers, Stevvi Alexander and Sophia Stephens, joined him for a truly, explosive 80-minute set. Clark kicked off the set with “Bright Lights,” a track that launched him and his album Blak & Blu. He followed up with a few more tracks off of Blak & Blu before breaking into some of his new music.
Clark’s growth between both albums was apparent, especially when performing tracks like “Hold On” and “Our Love.” His powerhouse guitar playing is put to the side to focus on his terrific songwriting and strong vocal abilities. When he took a seat in front of his keyboard on stage, it’s almost like he took on a new persona. His voice was deep, yet dulcet, and gave you a kind of John Legend feel. In the best way possible, of course. For the latter half of the set, he showcased just how he came to be one of the strongest blues players on the scene right now. Clark chose “The Healing” off of Slim for the last song of the main set, and the funky blues track had everyone dancing in their seats.
As he exited the stage, the crowd was already chanting “Gary! Gary! Gary!” Clark and his main band came out to play one more song off of Slim. “Shake” brought everyone, even in the last row of the balcony, to their fee. For such a young artist, Clark has accomplished great things and it doesn’t seem to be slowing down any time soon.