Gary Clark Jr. / Muddy Mangolias @ the Pageant, St. Louis, MO

Words and pictures by Duane Clawson
“I don't think anything can touch the expressive range of the guitar.” – Gary Clark Jr.

There are few artists I will go see every time they’re in town.  But I’m pretty sure I could follow Gary Clark Jr. in my hippie van around the country and never get tired of seeing this man perform.  On a sold out Sunday night in St. Louis at the Pageant, I had my second opportunity see, photograph, and witness the magic of Gary Clark Jr.

With a packed house, the Muddy Magnolias had a tall order to fill as the opening act for Gary Clark.  Co-lead vocalists Kallie North and Jessy Wilson, along with a great backing rhythm section, tore through a variety of songs tinged with gospel, country, and rock.  Takeaway moments from their performance included a rip-roaring cover of the Doobie Brothers' “Jesus is Just Alright with Me”, which showcased the entire versatility of the band.  Kallie and Jessy’s ability to harmonize or bring it solo properly satisfied the expectations of the sold out Pageant audience.

At 9pm sharp, a Texas, guitar-slinging tornado hits Delmar Ave in St. Louis, and his name is Gary Clark Jr.  Efficiently using all of his two hours on stage, Gary Clark wastes no time, as the muted lighting scheme rises along with his opening piece, “Bright Lights”.  This song properly sets the tone with the line, “You’re gonna know my name by the end of the night”.  Yes, you will.  Stage theatrics and between song banter are replaced with extended guitar solos that will curl your toes and leave you wanting a cigarette.  Clark Jr. is touring in support of his latest album, The Story of Sonny Boy Slim.  Re-familiarizing St. Louis with songs from his past three albums, Clark Jr. finally gets to “Hold On” from the new effort, as the sixth song in a 17-song set.  As my buddy Dave pointed out, not only can this man play guitar, you don’t realize how good of a singer he is and the vocals do shine on the new material.  “When my Train Pulls In”, “Travis County Line", and “Numb”, all Gary Clark staples, found their way in to the set along with his pure blues cover of Albert Collins’s “If Trouble Was Money”.  Somewhat of a surprise encore, found the Muddy Magnolias joining Clark Jr. onstage for a deliciously, harmonious version of “Church” from the new album.  And the night ended with “The Healing”, also from ...Sonny Boy Slim.  After the show I thought about the encore, and how it really should not have surprised me.  As Gary Clark Jr. chose to end it his way and he’s been choosing to do it his way all along!   Thanks to Gary Clark Jr.’s PR team for allowing us access and as always the most accommodating staff at the Pageant.  Photos of the show are below:

Muddy Magnolias
Gary Clark Jr.
Contributed by Duane Clawson
Gary Clark Jr. / Muddy Mangolias @ the Pageant, St. Louis, MO Gary Clark Jr. / Muddy Mangolias @ the Pageant, St. Louis, MO Reviewed by Scott Rowe, Editor on March 07, 2016 Rating: 5
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