CD Review: Gary Clark Jr. “Live North America 2016”

“Live North America 2016”
Gary Clarke Jr.
Warner Bros.
Tracks: 12

Our score: 3 out of 5 stars

To coincide with Gary Clarke’s guest appearances during Eric Clapton’s 50th anniversary shows at Madison Square Garden and at The Forum in Los Angeles in mid March comes the guitarists latest live recording titled “Live North America 2016”. The album is being released via Warner Bros. Records and includes all new and unreleased live recordings from Clark’s 2016 tour which was in support of his acclaimed 2015 release “The Story of Sonny Boy Slim”.

Live recordings can often be hit or miss. Despite the recent advances in digital recording the main brunt of the work still falls on the artists to put forth a worthwhile performance. In the case of the latest Gary Clark Jr. album “Live North America 2016” is mostly all hits. Clark’s performance throughout the albums 12 tracks captures the listener’s attentions and holds it close. Tracks like the soulful “The Healing” and “Down to Ride” showcase Clark’s talents as both a player and vocalist while songs such as “When My Train Pulls In” and “Numb” capture a grittier side of Clark’s musical pallet.

Though I found the albums overall mix to be a touch off at certain points you have to know going in to a live album that there are going to be some audio short comings as there are multiple factors that come in to play with this type of set up some of which are not favorable for recording. However what is consistant across the albums 70 plus minute run time is the musicianship shown by Clark and his band. Each of the twelve performances that make up this album is sure to have something for every listener out there making it worth checking out.

Track Listing:
1.) Grinder
2.) The Healing
3.) Our Love
4.) Cold Blooded
5.) When My Train Pulls In
6.) Down to Ride
7.) You Saved Me
8.) Shake (feat. Leon Bridges with Jeff Dazey)
9.) Church
10.) Honest I Do
11.) My Baby’s Gone
12.) Numb

TV Legend Dick Clark dead at 82

Dick Clark, whose almost seven decades on television made him known as “America’s Oldest Living Teenager,” died today after suffering a massive heart attack. He was 82.

Born in Mount Vernon, New York towards the end of 1929, Clark started out as a mail clerk at WRUN-Radio, which was run by his father and uncle, in Utica, New York. Within a year he graduated to doing the weather and finally his own newscast. He was 17.

He attended Syracuse University and after graduation returned to Utica where he hosted a television country music program. In 1952 he was hired by WFIL, a Philadelphia station that broadcast on both radio and television. Initially hired as a radio DJ, Clark begin filling in for host Bob Horn on the stations afternoon teenage dance show, “Bandstand.” When Horn was fired in 1956 after being arrested for drunk driving Clark took over the show permanently, soon establishing it as one of the most popular on air. In 1957 the ABC television network picked up the show to run nationally, re-naming it “American Bandstand.” The show became a hit nationwide, airing after school in most cities. Sensing a change in the music world, Clark was one of the first hosts to welcome black dancers and guests on his show.

In 1959, Congress began an investigation into what was known as “Payola,” which concerned record company executives paying disc jockeys to highlight certain records and ignore others. Clark was called to testify before the committee and admitted to taking a fur coat and some jewelry for his wife from one record company president. As this was the only incident, Clark was reprimanded. However, to avoid the perception of impropriety, ABC asked Clark to sell his interest in the television program. He did but managed to keep rights to several important individual programs. In 1963, ABC moved “American Bandstand” to Saturday afternoons, where it ran until 1989.

Clark was also a shrewd producer. In 1972 he hosted his very first “New Year’s Rocking Eve” program. He also produced and hosted several game shows, most notably “The $10,000 Pyramid.” This grew to $25,000 then finally $100,000. He also produced such other popular shows as “Bloopers and Practical Jokes” and the very popular “American Music Awards.” In 2004 Clark suffered a stroke, which kept him off the air on New Years Eve. But the next year he was back, with new co-host Ryan Seacrest. His speech was stilted but you could see the young man inside in his eyes. Dick Clark was a true television icon. I doubt there will ever be another like him.

Interview with Clark Duke

Born in Arkansas, Clark Duke first gained attention at age seven with a featured role in the CBS comedy “Hearts Afire,” which starred John Ritter and Markie Post. A decade after the show ended he teamed up with buddy Michael Cera for the Internet series “The Clark and Michael Show.” He returned to television as the star of the long running show “Greek.” He also found time to appear in such films as “Superbad” and “Kick-Ass,” as well as snagging a starring role in the comedy “Hot Tub Time Machine.” His next film, which opens today, is “A Thousand Words,” which also stars Eddie Murphy and Cliff Curtis. Duke recently took some time to sit down with Media Mikes and talk about his new film, Eddie Murphy’s body double and the “Kick Ass” sequel that may or may not be in the works.

Mike Smith: Give us a quick bio of Aaron Wiseberger, your character in “A Thousand Words.”
Clark Duke: Aaron is Jack McCall’s (Murphy) assistant. He’s very meek and constantly terrified about losing his job at the beginning of the film. But by the end he’s taken on some of the more brash qualities of Jack. It was a lot of fun to play.

MS: When I was your age Eddie Murphy was the biggest star on the planet and is a true comedy legend. Did you have any worries about working with him?
CD: Of course there are nerves because you are working with such an icon. But I think that makes you better. To have that jittery feeling…the first day on the set I was so nervous that I introduced myself to his body double! I thought it was Eddie. I should add that Eddie has a guy that looks JUST like him. It’s almost unnerving how much he looks like him. It was just like “Bowfinger.” Here’s a guy that looks exactly like Eddie Murphy but it isn’t Eddie Murphy! (laughs)

MS: You did a lot of writing and directing while working on “The Clark and MichaelShow.” Is that something you’d like to pursue more in the future?
CD: Yes. 100%. That’s kind of what I went to college for. It’s what I’d like to end up doing long term. I’m actually working on a feature script right now so I’m definitely ready to go forward.

MS: Since you mentioned college are you ever approached by fans about a possible “Greek” reunion?
CD: No. I can’t imagine that happening.

MS: Mark Millar just announced that “Kick-Ass 2” starts filming this summer. Are you going to be involved in this? (NOTE: Millar, who created the comic book “Kick-Ass,” told The Daily Record newspaper that the sequel would start shooting this summer)
CD: I can’t really talk about that…he confirmed it publicly?

MS: Yes, last week.
CD: Wow…all I can tell you is that I very much hope that’s true.

MS: What projects do you have coming up next?
CD: Well, apparently “Kick-Ass 2!” (laughs) And I’m going to start a new movie next week in Atlanta. I’m also doing a voice in an animated movie for Dreamworks called “The Croods.” It stars Nicolas Cage, Ryan Reynolds and a bunch of other cool people.

MS: Have you already finished the voice work for the film?
CD: I’m actually still working on it. I have been for a year or two. These things take a pretty staggering amount of time. But I did get a tour of the Dreamworks animation facility in Glendale (California). It’s pretty incredible the scope of the operation…how many hundreds of people it takes to make one of those movies.

MS: How do you keep your performance fresh when you do a character for that long?
CD: It stays fresh because you may go a few months at a time before you work on it again. You don’t really have a chance to get burned out. It’s such a fun pleasure to go in and just mess around. A lot of times you’re recording by yourself…you can do as many takes as you want. As many ways as you want. You just keep trying stuff until somebody in the other room laughs. I really liked doing it. I had done a little voice stuff for Seth Green on “Robot Chicken” but never on such a grand scale. I didn’t see any of the animation attached to my voice until a couple of weeks ago and it was pretty awesome! They animate the character around all of your different vocal ticks and pauses. It’s hard to explain…it’s kind of like having your own trading card or action figure. A weird sensation but a pretty cool one.

MS: Thanks for your time. I hope Mark Millar wasn’t teasing everybody.
CD: (laughs) Me too!