Will Gary Clark Jr. celebrate his March 17 live album release at SXSW?

Gary Clark Jr. at the Paramount Theater on December 6, 2016. Suzanne Cordeiro/For American-Statesman

Gary Clark Jr. at the Paramount Theater on December 6, 2016. Suzanne Cordeiro/For American-Statesman

Austin’s next generation blues great, Gary Clark Jr. has a new album, “Live North America 2016” scheduled to drop on March 17. The album is a collection of new and unreleased live recordings from his 2016 tour supporting his 2015 release, “The Story of Sonny Boy Slim.”

Most of the songs on the album are from “Sonny Boy” but it also includes covers of Jimmy Reed’s “Honest I Do” and Elmore James’ “My Baby’s Gone” as well as older faves “You Saved Me” and “When My Train Pulls In.”

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For some artists, the value of a live album seems questionable, but when Clark plays live he spins magic. He feeds off crowd energy, channeling it into high-voltage guitar licks. It’s the best way to experience his music and his 2014 live release captured the vibe.

Speaking of Clark’s live performances, the album release date is timed to correspond with a run of shows opening for Eric Clapton on his 50th anniversary tour in New York and L.A. The first of those shows is on March 19. It also seems perfectly timed to the South by Southwest Music Festival, which runs from March 13-19. For the last few years Clark has popped in during the fest to party with his hometown fans and it seems awfully likely that he’ll do the same this year.  We are after all, his top music market in the world.

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