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Gary Clark, Jr. and Jimmie Vaughan at the Iridium


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Gary Clark, Jr. and Jimmie Vaughan
The Iridium
New York, NY
September 8, 2017

Speakeasy is a public television series that pairs Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Famers, Grammy Award winners, Tony Award winners and iconic musicians with an interviewer of their choice. The show features conversations between the stars and stories that may not be very well-known. It often features special performances that can only take place in the show's unique environment.

On the pleasant afternoon of September 8th, Speakeasy returned to New York City's fabled Iridium to film a new episode. The episode was truly a one-of-a-kind show for those in attendance. Grammy Award winner Gary Clark, Jr. interviewed four-time Grammy Award winner Jimmie Vaughan.

The Iridium is a small room. It is intimate. That intimacy allowed old friends Clark, Jr. and Vaughan the opportunity to be comfortable not only with each other, but with the audience.

Gary Clark, Jr., the young gun guitarslinger from Austin, TX is known for his known for his fusion of blues, rock and soul music with elements of hip hop. He has been called "The Chosen One" not only because of his signature sound (with its heavy use of improvisation), but because many see him as the future of the electric guitar. In January 2014, Clark, Jr. won the Grammy Award for Best Traditional R&B Performance at the 56th annual Grammy Awards for his song "Please Come Home." In both 2014 and 2015, Clark, Jr. won a Blues Music Award in the Contemporary Blues Male Artist of the Year category. Clark, Jr. has performed with many musical legends including Eric Clapton, Sheryl Crow, B.B. King, Foo Fighters, Trombone Shorty, Earth, Wind & Fire, Dr. John, Joe Walsh, the Dave Matthews and the The Rolling Stones.

Jimmie Vaughan is a blues rock guitarist and singer based in Austin, TX. He is the older brother of the late blues guitar legend Stevie Ray Vaughan. Jimmie Vaughan first came to prominence when he formed the Fabulous Thunderbirds with singer and harpist Kim Wilson, bassist Keith Ferguson, and drummers Mike Buck and Fran Christina. After leaving the band, Vaughan achieved success as a solo artist winning Grammy Awards in 1990 with brother Stevie for "Best Contemporary Blues Recording" for the Vaughan Brothers album Family Style (Epic Records) and "Best Rock Instrumental Performance" for the song "D/FW." In 1996 he won the Grammy for "Best Rock Instrumental Performance" for "SRV Shuffle" and in 2001 he won the Grammy for "Best Traditional Blues Album" Do You Get The Blues? (Artemis Records). In addition to his brother and the Fabulous Thunderbirds, Vaughan has performed with Eric Clapton, Jimi Hendrix, B.B. King, Lazy Lester, Duke Robillard, Omar Kent Dykes, Robert Cray, Buddy Guy, Hubert Sumlin, Robert Randolph, Bo Diddley and Bob Dylan.

After a short introduction detailing the pedigrees of the two guitarists, they waved their "hellos" to the crowd, and took their seats on the high stools set at centerstage. After some small talk with each other and the audience, Clark, Jr. mentioned that when he was a kid he had posters on the wall of his bedroom. He described them to Vaughan as being "Muddy, Buddy, Michael Jackson and you!" Vaughan smiled and blushed just a bit.

A short while later, Vaughan told the story about how the two met. Vaughan recalled that Clifford Antone, the owner of the legendary Austin music club Antone's, told him that he had to check out this young 14-year-old guitarist. He said, "When Clifford told you that you needed to check out a musician, you did it." Clark, Jr. and Vaughan talked about those early meetings and how Vaughan then became a mentor to the younger musician.

After a few more anecdotes, Clark, Jr. asked Vaughan what they should play. Vaughan responded, "How about a little Jimmy Reed." The two guitarists then played a Jimmy Reed instrumental number and "Honest I Do." After playing "Roll, Roll, Roll," Vaughan mentioned that the song was by Guitar Jr. who after moving to Chicago adopted the stage name Lonnie Brooks. While pondering what to play, an audience member suggested "My Baby Left Me." The guitarists agreed that it was a good choice and delivered a fantastic version of the Arthur "Big Boy" Crudup classic. The Larry Davis penned "Texas Flood," which many associate with Stevie Ray Vaughan, was an appropriate choice following the recent devastation caused by Hurricane Harvey. The performance section of the show also included Willie Dixon's version of "Whole Lotta Love."

After performing, the two musicians agreed that they were influenced by a number of different guitarists including but not limited to: W.C. Clark (who Clark, Jr. mentioned was actually his cousin), B.B. King, Muddy Waters, Albert King, Eric Clapton, Snooks Eaglin, Clarence Gatemouth Brown, Jimmy Reed, Buddy Guy, Mance Lipscomb and Jimi Hendrix. Hendrix was described as being in a class all his own. They said that his playing was what the stepson of Muddy Waters would have sounded like if he went to Mars.

Additional article contributions by Christine Connallon.

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