I had the pleasure of shaking hands with Daniel Clarke on Sunday when I went to Hardywood to fill a growler.
I never know what I’ll find when I go there, though I should know by now that there’s no such thing as a quick Hardywood errand. Half the time I find a mob scene — people everywhere, food trucks everywhere, parking spaces nowhere, craft show/beer release/indeterminate festival in full swing… the other half of the time I get sucked into a performance I don’t want to end, which is what happened on Sunday. Clarke on keys, J.C. Kuhl (who I recognized from Mekong Xpress) on sax, Cameron Ralston (of Matthew E. White’s band) on bass, Brian Jones on drums. Their cover of Radiohead’s “National Anthem” made my heart unreasonably happy. I got video of most of “National Anthem,” though I don’t think I’ll upload it. Seems a little tacky, especially because most of the actual video is of people standing in line for beer. The audio is excellent, though. I’m listening to it now and my heart is unreasonably happy again.
I introduced myself to Clarke just before their set break ended and we talked briefly about our shared love of BK Music, which is where I recently picked up a copy of Clarke’s new Diamonds 45. Y’all might know Clarke from his work in Ryan Adams’ band, but Diamonds finds him front and center, playing every instrument Stevie Wonder-style and singing beautifully. What comes across is a natural comfort with R&B — the kind that comes from a deep appreciation of the genre and its roots. Definitely makes me want to go back through my Spacebomb records and listen for his contributions. Also makes me hopeful that he’ll release more of his own work, which he’s said he might do.
While I love both “Diamonds” and “Guided (By What We Have),” don’t sleep on the third and shortest track, “Rollin’ Out,” which is funky as hell and could easily have followed “Green Onions” on a dance party playlist in 1962.
Daniel Clarke — “Diamonds” [Pax-Am/iTunes]
Daniel Clarke — “Rollin’ Out” [Pax-Am/iTunes]