Home > Uncategorized > Guy Clark Back Home in Austin

Guy Clark Back Home in Austin

As I began to explore the emerging Austin Music Scene through albums and the weekly Austin City Limits television show when I was living up in Central Ohio through most of the 1970s, one of the first meaningful singer-songwriters I encountered was Guy Clark – native of Texas and surely the state’s poet laureate. Listening to his first album “Old No. 1” in 1975 during my time at Denison University doing communications, brought smiles of shared experiences and an introduction to some real interesting feelings and folks down in Texas. I moved to Austin for the music in 1978.

Bob Kinney Words & Photos

Guy Clark at Cactus Auditorium in Austin Nov 3 in 2012

Guy last returned to Austin in 2012 for a November 3 & 4 gig at the Cactus Auditorium on the UT campus where I have been pleased before to share that iconic space with Guy and his long-time picking buddy Verlon Thompson as  they played memorable shows – seemingly effortless and with an easily flowing of shared creativity.

Brennen Leigh and Noel McKay – who it’s been Fun hearing and seeing over recent years in Austin – had the honor of opening for Guy Clark.

Brennen and Noel pave the way for Guy

And … they sure responded. Their performance was the couple’s best I have been at. Brennen and Noel recorded a new album after returning to Austin last summer when they were invited to play one of their songs at Merle Fest in North Carolina. Their opening set at the Cactus featured some of these new songs that are both heartfelt and, at times, very funny, as well as their traditional Americana standards.

Guy and Verlon then came on stage, settled onto  side-by-side chairs and began tweaking their guitar tuning. It did not come together smoothly enough so Guy announced – “I have lived so long (coming up on 71) that I don’t give a shit.”

Old Friends

I experienced those two friends last year in Austin for the fine 70 Year Birthday Tribute to Guy Clark when several musicians – who all wish they could write even kinda close like him – each sang one of Guy’s songs as he sat near the stage. Guy and Verlon closed the 2011 show with a ten-song set. At times, Vernal gave Guy a clue to the next word of the song they were performing.

Verlon Solo

“You may have noticed I am getting forgetful at times,” Guy said to us near show’s end. “It’s OK, though – my wife says this will be the first time I will be able to hide my own Easter eggs.”

Guy Clark

Forgetfulness came up at the end of the show’s following song, “Texas – 1947.” That song has special meaning to me since I grew up with steam engine trains in the 1950s and then was awed at the speed of diesel engines.

Guy said he was real pleased after he finished writing the “Texas – 1947” song about the first time a diesel sped through his hometown of Monahans in West Texas. He played the song for his parents in their home but they could not remember the event. We are able to.

Guy followed later with the gritty “Stuff That Works” song. When a standing ovation died down after the song, Guy cautioned – “Thanks – but let’s see how the rest of the show goes.”

Noel McKay

Brennen Leigh

Still recovering from a recent cold, Guy’s nose began to run noticeably during the next song. At song’s end, an attractive young woman got up from a front row seat and handed some tissues up to Guy. “Thanks, Darling,” Guy smiled. “Hope you wrote your phone number on it.”

A highlight of their shows is Verlon playing a string of his songs solo. During that set, Guy looks at Verlon with respect and admiration. Their decades-long friendship sure shows when they share a stage.

As the show drew to a close, audience members called out suggestions for the Last Song. Guy quickly replied – “I already know what it is” – and then launched into “Dublin Blues” – an iconic Austin song that begins – “I wish I was in Austin – at the Chili Parlor Bar – Drinkin’ Mad Dog Margaritas – and not wondering where you are.”

Keep Searching, Guy

         See ya next time, Guy and Verlon.</p

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Categories: Uncategorized
  1. November 11, 2012 at 8:01 am

    As ususal, almost felt like I was there. Thank you!

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