TEMPLE — The Godfather of Austin blues was a little late to the gig Saturday night.
After a pre-concert interview and sound check, W.C. Clark, the 74-year-old headliner at a Temple Cultural Activities Center show, left to get a bite to eat — and got lost.
As curtain time drew near, Jane Boone, marketing director at CAC, managed to place a call to Clark’s manager who tracked down the tardy singer/composer/guitarist in his idling minivan at a gas station near Interstate 35.
With local guides leading a speedy return trip to the CAC, Clark joined his four-piece band and launched into “T-Bone Shuffle.”
The first-call Austin musicians who accompanied Clark were Ty Grimes on drums, Larry Eisenberg, bass, Jon Fannin, guitar and Tom Robinson on soprano and tenor saxophones.
And they brought life back to the mostly patient audience with their segue into Sam Cooke’s “We’re Havin’ A Party,” which featured Clark’s blues-roots vocals and the searing guitar virtuosity of Fannin.
As Clark succinctly said, “I don’t have trouble getting the best musicians — when the Godfather calls, you gotta go.”
Clark relates an anecdote from his tour in the Canary Islands: “I was playing for all these Japanese people and they were right with me, clapping and singing. After a few tunes I asked this audience, ‘Do you all know what I’m saying?’, and there was complete silence — but they got the music — that’s the blues.”
By the time Clark played his original song, “You Ain’t Lost Nothin’,” a down-and-out classic blues, he’d worked his magic and the audience of 150 was smiling, rocking and applauding. If Clark fretted over being a few miles out of pocket at showtime, all seemed forgiven and forgotten. As he himself said earlier in the evening, “You can have the blues no matter where you are.”