Gary Clark Jr. gives a little Austin love to SA's music scene

"It's about time we bridge this Austin/SA gap," says Austinite blues machine Gary Clark Jr. - Courtesy photo
Courtesy photo
"It's about time we bridge this Austin/SA gap," says Austinite blues machine Gary Clark Jr.

The birth of a new music festival is always cause for some excitement, especially when the king of music festivals chooses San Antonio to start a new musical extravaganza.

"San Antonio is a special city that doesn't always get [as much] love [as it] should," said Austin-based Gary Clark Jr., who has seized a lot of attention with his virtuosic, fuzzed-out guitar mastery and his adept mixture of blues and contemporary pop influences. Named by Spin magazine "Summer Festival King" of 2012 (he played in more major U.S. music festivals than anyone on the planet), Clark's the perfect driving force behind the first edition of the all-ages Maverick Music Festival to be held at La Villita's Maverick Plaza on Saturday. "I've always had family down here, coming down for holidays and stuff. Now is about time to bridge this Austin/SA gap. I think it'll be a good thing for both cities."

At first, San Antonio wasn't in anybody's mind when talks for a new festival started. But the more it was discussed, the more of a logical destination SA seemed to be.

"We've been talking about having our own festival for a while," said Blayne Tucker, Clark's tour manager, "and when I mentioned San Antonio, he immediately loved the idea."

Besides being a personal dream come true for Clark, the Maverick Festival is his attempt to reinvigorate the San Antonio music scene by bringing us some of the excitement and prestige marked by other annual regional music fests, thus closing the distance between Austin's legendary reputation for live music and San Antonio's underrated status as an emerging cultural force. As with most other festivals, Clark and his team have assembled something that's more than just a series of concert performances: the daytime segment of the show will be free to the public and feature local bands, cultural displays, and opportunities to sample the best of San Antonio's divergent cuisines. The evening portion, while still all-ages, is a paid attraction featuring a lineup of national bands aimed at drawing a varied crowd. Here they are:

Gary Clark Jr.
Maverick stage, 10:30pm

The man behind the curtain will also be the man of the hour, headlining his own festival and with his team organizing and scheduling the entire event. Clark has recently come to prominence as the country's hottest young bluesman, snaring the attention of music critics through his ability to incorporate hip-hop rhythms and energy with rock structures and pure electric blues foundations. Blak and Blu, last year's full-length debut for Warner Bros., won Clark nearly universal acclaim for its earthy, diverse songs and raw, scorching solos. More importantly to the success of the Maverick Music Festival, it put him in a position to meet and greet the kind of industry bigwigs who could be instrumental in making such an event a recurring success. He collected an unprecedented eight awards at last week's Austin Music Awards (including band, musician, and album of the year) and was scheduled to perform on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno on March 20 and The Late Show with David Letterman on April 9. Clark has already proved himself a highly capable musician and a creative force; if he can manage to create something lasting for the Texas music scene, his reputation will be made for life in his home state.

He comes to Texas days before making his debut in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and slowly and steadily cooking things up for his next album. "I'm always working things out in my head when I've got the chance," he said. "It's tough on the road, as much as we're moving right now. At the moment I've been doing lots of beats on my iPad. Just keepin' it simple and flushing out some ideas for now. Nothin too fancy."

Maverick Stage, 9pm

On the strength of just one single, the catchy but creepy "Possum Kingdom," Fort Worth's Toadies cemented their status as crackerjack practitioners of late-period alternative rock. But locals know there's lots more to them than just one song, and since a long hiatus, they've been working hard to move their sound forward.

Girl in a Coma
Maverick Stage, 8pm

San Antonio's own all-girl indie rock champions bring the pure, hard throwback rock 'n' roll of paragon/label boss Joan Jett to beat on the mournful, edgy torment of the Smiths, whose work inspired their name. Brewing up national attention after several years of cult-favorite status, GIAC welcomes the kind of exposure that Maverick can give them, but not because they need it: the girls just played a couple of showcases at South by Southwest, continue their national tour, and will perform in Ireland and Germany in mid-April.

Henry + the Invisibles
Maverick Stage, 7:15pm

Henry is Henry Roland, and the Invisibles is his backing band, so named because they don't exist — the charismatic Roland is the world's self-proclaimed only "onemanphunkband" and the one readers chose as Best Music Innovator in the Current's 2010 Rammy Awards.

Arum Rae
Maverick Stage, 6:30pm

The delicate, deep poetry of singer-songwriters can be a love-it-or-leave-it proposition, but Austin's Arum Rae (White Dress, featured below) salvages the style with her skillful blend of country, folk and jazz, and a terrific voice that elevates even weaker material.


Maverick Stage
Noon: Elora & Gasoline Alley
2pm: The Heroine
4pm: T Bird & The Breaks

Juárez Stage
12:30pm: Trees
1:30pm: Este Vato
3pm: Hour Band
4:45pm: Villela


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