Everynight Charley

Gary Clark Jr. at Radio City Music Hall / June 11, 2024

At the age of 12, Gary Clark Jr. began playing guitar at small gigs in his native Austin, Texas. At the age of 40, the Grammy Award-winning vocalist/guitarist headlined Radio City Music Hall for the first time. He related to his audience there that the first time he came to perform in New York City, he walked past Radio City Music Hall and fantasized about playing the iconic venue in the future. He added that playing on that stage this night was a dream come true.

For his dream-come-true night, Clark performed a two-hour, 16-song set, supported by a band consisting of guitarist Eric “King” Zapata, keyboardists Jon Deas and Dayne Reliford, bassist Elijah Ford, drummer JJ Johnson, and his three sisters as backing vocalists, Shanan Colvin, Shawn Clark-Martinez, and Savannah Clark. The performance highlighted his sixth and most recent album, JPEG RAW, which he released on March 22. The Free Nationals, best known as the backing band for Anderson .Paak, opened the concert.

Clark’s reputation as a blues guitarist was far too limiting throughout the concert. Although  the program was blues-rooted, Clark’s repertoire cohesively blended elements of rock, blues, and soul, and on his first song, “Maktub,” even introduced a taste of hip-hop and rap. As Clark’s musical landscape continues to evolve, the new elements he incorporated into his musical arrangements sounded influenced by indie-ock.

The songs typically began and ended emphasizing Clark’s smooth vocal style, while the mid-sections pivoted on his quick and gritty fretwork or the prowess of his musicians. Surprisingly, Clark did not do all the hefty lifting, as evident as early as the second song, “When My Train Pulls In,” on which the rhythm section of Ford and Johnson provided a solid foundation while Clark and Zapata alternated guitar leads. At times, Clark disappeared into the wings while his band jammed.

Clark told the audience that, when he was young, he wanted to be Marvin Gaye. Throughout the evening, Clark’s soulful singing evoked many of his rhythm and blues predecessors. He sporadically sang in falsetto, and even rested his guitar on a stand and only sang on “Alone Together.”

Clark welcomed several guests on stage. Trumpeter Maurice “Mobetta” Brown of the Tedeschi Trucks Band, guitarist Jose Rios of the Free Nationals, and bassist/producer Brady Watt joined Clark and his band at different points in the program. When the guests appeared on stage, they were offered an extended spotlight.

Photo by Everynight Charley

While all the music was good, Clark and his band’s laid-back demeanor failed to truly ignite and set the room on fire. Even with a fair amount of the audience on its feet, the performance simmered steadily for most of the night. This was not bad, but the concert never exploded, as one might imagine it could with a hot shot guitarist.


  1. Maktub
  2. When My Train Pulls In
  3. Hyperwave
  4. This Is Who We Are
  5. The Healing
  6. Alone Together (with Maurice “Mobetta” Brown)
  7. Feed the Babies
  8. What About the Children
  9. Triumph
  10. Our Love
  11. Bright Lights (with Jose Rios)
  12. Habits


  1. Funk Witch U (with Brady Watt)
Photo by Everynight Charley