Gary Clark Jr. impresses ACL crowd

Gary Clark Jr., an Austin native, was a crowd favorite at the 2012 Austin City Limits music festival. His new album, Blak and Blu, was released Oct. 23, and features many of the songs that he performed at the festival. His dynamic combination of a sweet, smooth voice and rigid, rock ‘n’ roll guitar riffs have led him to fame and adoration in the Austin community, and his fan base is quickly spreading across the nation.

The 28-year-old rock ‘n’ roll protégé started playing guitar at age 12 and played small gigs around Austin throughout his teens. It wasn’t until Clark met promoter Clifford Antone, the well-known owner of the Austin music club Antone’s, that his career really started to take off. Antone’s was the launch pad for many great artists, including rock legend Stevie Ray Vaughan.

Having seen mostly electronic music during the first two days of the three-day festival, I was really looking forward to mixing it up with Gary Clark Jr. He did not disappoint. He played nine songs, all of them good. His set list included a variety of genres, including blues, rock, jazz and what I can only describe as “soul” music. One song he played, “Travis County,” was about his several trips to the Travis County Courthouse over the years. So like every great rock ‘n’ roller, he’s a little rough around the edges.

Although he certainly has a style of his own, I’ve heard many comparisons that describe him fairly well. The one that seemed most accurate to me was a crossbreed of Jimi Hendrix and John Mayer.

Clark is an incredibly talented musician, and I’m astounded that I had no knowledge of him prior to ACL 2012. He undoubtedly has a very promising career ahead of him, and I personally believe that he is one of the great rockers of this generation. He is the type of musician that will be celebrated even after he is done making music.