Gary Clark Jr.'s All-Star Revue to kick off Blues on the Green series in Zilker Park
Blues on the Green returns to Zilker Park this summer with a bang. The Austin City Limits Radio-sponsored free concert series kicks off its 30th year on July 27 with an event billed as "Gary Clark Jr.'s Handpicked Homegrown All-Star Revue," followed by a July 28 bill with two up-and-coming local acts, adventurous pop artist Mobley and eclectic band Kalu & the Electric Joint.
Clark's band will back seven Austin artists as part of the revue show: Jackie Venson, Jimmie Vaughan, Blackillac, Kydd Jones, Eve Monsees, the Peterson Brothers and Suzanne Santos. Clark likely will sit in with many of the artists, and he may perform a few songs of his own, though there's no set structure. "It’s Gary’s night, and I’m as curious as anyone what happens,” ACL Radio's Andy Langer said.
The inspiration for the show dates back to the 2019 Austin City Limits Music Festival, at which Clark spiced up his sets on the fest's largest stage both weekends by inviting some of his favorite local performers (including Blackillac, Kydd Jones and the Peterson Brothers) to join him on several songs. This followed Clark's long-running habit of bringing local artists such as Venson and Tameca Jones on tour to open his shows.
"Nobody I can think of has done as much to expose young Austin artists to a substantial crowd, by offering them the ability to open long legs of tours, than Gary has," Langer said. "I said to him that day in 2019, 'What if we did a Blues on the Green where you brought all these folks out and exposed them to a giant audience at home?' He was 100 percent in."
Broadening the scope of the revue are the additions of guitar great Vaughan, who's long been one of Clark's local mentors, and Santos, a singer-songwriter who recently moved to Austin from Los Angeles and has an album coming out in August that features guest appearances by Clark as well as Shakey Graves.
This will be just the second time Clark has played Blues on the Green. His first appearance was in 2005. Clark was scheduled to be a special guest on a 2015 Antone's-themed show, but Memorial Day flooding that year caused a one-week postponement that made Clark unavailable. (Steve Miller performed instead.)
Last year, Venson called out the concert series as it planned a virtual version of the event, publicly calling for organizers to program an all-Black lineup amid the national reckoning on racism last summer. At the time, Blues on the Green had not headlined any Black artists since 2016. Venson eventually curated a "Blues on the Screen" event featuring local Black artists that aired in July.
Both shows begin at 8 p.m. For information on parking, what's allowed in the park and other details, go to acl-radio.com/blues-on-the-green. After the July 28 show, ACL Radio will announce the performers for two final concerts in the series on Aug. 10-11.
Delays from COVID-19 resulted in this year's series being condensed into two sets of Tuesdays and Wednesdays, rather than the usual timeline of one Wednesday a month from May to August.