For Grammy winner Gary Clark Jr. it was an emotional homecoming in the club he legitimately calls “home” – Austin’s legendary “Home Of The Blues,” Antone’s Nightclub. Clark first played Antone’s as a fifteen-year-old obsessed with blues history and now he’s both one of the most respected and revered artists in blues and R&B, and in a full-circle move, a part-owner of the club’s latest iteration. His 20-song set for a crowd of 350 invited guests for the season finale of Live from the Artists Den featured songs from his 2012 breakthrough Blak and Blu and last year’s genre-bending follow-up, The Story Of Sonny Boy Slim. Among the highlights of a night filled with fiery, jaw-dropping guitar heroism and bright flashes of a gorgeous falsetto, a loud, muscular take on “Bright Lights” and a supremely funky meditation on the impact of music, “The Healing.”
Austin native and blues phenomenon Gary Clark Jr. has been touring the US since 2010, but he first picked up a guitar at age 12. By the time he was 15, he was a regular playing stages on Austin’s famous 6th street after being discovered by local promoter Clifford Antone. Clark released independent albums from 2005-2010, until he caught the attention of Eric Clapton, and was signed to Warner Music Group. Clark has has since been touring the world with rock legends including the Foo Fighters and the Rolling Stones. His latest album, The Story of Sonny Boy Slim, a tribute to his southern roots, was released in September 2015.
Established in 1975 by the late Clifford Antone, Antone’s is an iconic blues venue located in downtown Austin. Over the past 40 years, Antone’s has brought Austin a variety of blues and R&B musicians from across the country including B.B. King, Muddy Waters, Jimmy Reed, Ray Charles, and James Brown, and helped develop local talent like Stevie Ray Vaughan, The Fabulous Thunderbirds, Bob Schneider, Gary Clark Jr., and others. In 2015, the historic brand was restored and a new team brought the iconic venue back to the downtown Austin landscape with a renewed focus on once again making Antone’s the “Home of the Blues.”
Photography courtesy of Glen Brown