W.C. Clark | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

W.C. Clark 

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W.C. Clark developed his guitar skills in an East Austin roadhouse in the early 60s, backing artists as diverse as Hank Ballard, Brook Benton, and Redd Foxx. He later toured with deep-soul legend Joe Tex, then returned to Austin and became a mentor to the Vaughan boys and others on the local blues-rock scene of the 70s. Clark's latest, Deep in the Heart (Alligator), emphasizes his soul side, but there's plenty of burn-down-the-juke-joint blues here as well. He sings Barbara Lynn's 1966 classic "You Left the Water Running" in his best grits-and-corn-bread growl (with Marcia Ball supplying locked-in harmony), then carries on the nearly lost tradition of the brief solo in a precise, linear guitar break. On "I Want to Do Everything for You," a hyped-up excursion in the classic 6/8 swamp-pop ballad style, his percussive attack and furiously repetitive phrasing recall Guitar Slim. "Ain't Lost Nothin'" is an aggressive Jimmy Reed-style shuffle; "If You Really Think About It" slyly lays words of wisdom over a greasy deep-funk beat in the manner of the late Rufus Thomas. John Hiatt's "Tip of My Tongue," the set's only true ballad, is also its highlight: Clark's vocals ascend from a stately, rough-textured eloquence to an anguished wail, and his guitar lines curl and twist in fresh directions, seeking light amid the heartbreak of the song's story. Friday 8, 9:30 PM, Kingston Mines, 2548 N. Halsted, 773-477-4646, $15. See also Saturday.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/James Fraher.

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