(The Word Up From Down Under is an ongoing series featuring interviews conducted by Australian music channel Noise11 with artists while they are traveling through Australia.)
In advance of the release of his new album, Blak And Blu, blues/rock guitarist Gary Clark Jr. recently traveled to Australia to play two concerts in Melbourne and Sydney. During his stay, Clark was interviewed by Noise11, an Australian music channel featuring breaking news, interviews, performances, and more. Clark discussed touring Australia, his growing stature as a blues guitarist, collaborating with artists such as Alicia Keys, and his musical influences, among other topics.
"My foundation is definitely blues," said Clark. "That's how I grew up in Austin, Texas, running around blues joints and being able to be around guys like Jimmie Vaughan, James Cotton and Hubert Sumlin. … But I also grew up in the '80s and '90s [with] all kinds of other stuff going on. I put all of that into one thing."
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A native of Austin, Texas, Clark began playing guitar at age 12 and spent his teenage years playing gigs at venues throughout the Austin area such as Antone's nightclub, a venue that helped launch the career of Stevie Ray Vaughan. In 2005 Clark released an independent album, Tribute, which was followed by a set of self-produced albums in 2008, 110 and Worry No More. Clark was among the performers at GRAMMY winner Eric Clapton's Crossroads Guitar Festival in 2010. The following year, Clark released Bright Lights, a four-song EP that topped Billboard's Top Blues Albums chart.
Released Oct. 22, Blak And Blu is Clark's full-length debut. Produced by Clark and GRAMMY winner Mike Elizondo, the album debuted at No. 6 on the Billboard 200. Blak And Blu features 10 songs solely written by Clark and covers of Jimi Hendrix Experience's "Third Stone From The Sun" and Little Johnny Taylor's "If You Love Me Like You Say." Clark has tour dates scheduled in the United States through mid-November, including a three-night stay at the Troubadour in Los Angeles Nov. 13–15. He will be among the performers at the 2013 Big Day Out Festival in Australia in January.