Guy Clark at The Old Rock House, St. Louis, MO (2/29/2012)


I recently came across my review of a Guy Clark concert from 2012 that was originally published in Southeast Performer Magazine (which no longer exists). Guy passed away four years later in 2016; his last performance was in 2013 - not long too after this show. As I noted in the review, he was struggling through this performance, but it it was beautiful in the effort - and the songs stood strong.

Guy Clark

The Old Rock House, St. Louis, MO

February 29, 2012

“A crafty veteran plays hurt but gets the save.”

 The first image that the audience at The Old Rock House saw of legendary singer/songwriter Guy Clark was of a man limping to the stage, supported by a cane, accompanied by longtime collaborator Verlon Thompson. That image set the tone for the night, as Clark, who recently underwent knee replacement surgery and has dealt with other health issues over the last few years, struggled against a failing voice and a little performance rust and relied heavily on Thompson throughout the show.

And yet, the goodwill that Clark and his masterful songs have built over his nearly five decades-long career, along with his self-deprecating humor and Thompson’s spry playing and quiet enthusiasm, gave the night a special feeling. Whether it was singing along to classics like “L. A. Freeway” or listening attentively to an unreleased beauty like “My Favorite Picture of You,” the audience seemed to rise up to support someone whose songs have meant a great deal to them, and a man who has meant a great deal more.

 That’s not to say that the night was a charity case. Clark’s gift has always been in crafting poignant lyrics that show love, loss, and even whimsy without sentimentality, from “The Randall Knife” to “The Cape” to “Homegrown Tomatoes,” and that rare gift was not diminished. Nor was Clark’s sense of humor, as he joked that he was starting to sound like his gravelly friend Kris Kristofferson, who once told Willie Nelson that he was having throat problems. According to Clark, Willie’s reply was: “How can you tell the difference?”

 As he made his way slowly off stage, mouthing “No more” with a warm smile to calls for an encore, Guy Clark showed that, like a character in one of his songs, he would not let sentimentality get in the way of a truthful, funny, heartfelt moment.


- Jason Peterson

One of my favorite live records - check it out if you haven't heard it

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I write books and music and also write about books and music. If you can't find me, look under a pile of paperbacks or guitar picks. slimchancepress@gmail.com