My wife and I were fortunate to be guests at a house concert featuring The Clarks last night.
I have to admit that neither one of us were familiar with The Clarks before being invited to the concert, but I did a little bit of prep work before the show by watching some videos on YouTube and reading their online bio.
But nothing could have prepared us for how great their performance was last night. Part of it was the intimate setting – the lower level of a split-level home with about 20 people in the audience, and three of the four members of The Clarks just sitting there sharing their music and their stories. (Since it was going to be an acoustic set, the drummer (David Minarik) was not part of the band last night.
By the end of the evening (actually by the end of their first song, Mercury) we were in love with their music, and with the three guys as well. They were talented, friendly, down to earth, funny, and seemed committed to their craft. What more could you ask for from a group of musicians?
Here is a short clip I filmed of one of their songs, Caroline:
and here is a clip I found online of The Clarks singing this same song onstage, 20 years ago:
I’m not sure which version I like better, they are both so good, but there is something special about the acoustic versions of songs, especially when you are there to witness the performance.
I also think that part of the reason I liked them so much is that they are graduates of Indiana University of Pennsylvania (IUP), which is part of the Pennsylvania system of state schools, of which my wife and I are also graduates (East Stroudsburg). I remember swimming at IUP for the state championships one year (which was a few years before any members of The Clarks set foot on campus.)
The band has had some good success over the years. They appeared on the David Letterman show in 2004, singing Hell on Wheels. In 2008, the Pittsburgh Penguins commissioned the band to record a cover of Louis Armstrong’s “What a Wonderful World” for promotional usage during the 2009 Stanley Cup playoffs. Interestingly, the Penguins won their third Stanley Cup championship that year. That song was also used on an recent episode of The Simpsons.
They continue to write and produce new music, and shared one of the songs from their next album last night.
As fate would have it, The Clarks will be appearing at a local venue at the end of April, and we are hoping to go to that show so that we can see the full band in action.
If you’ve never heard of them I thought I’d share videos of some of my favorite songs from last night that I found on YouTube. If you have heard of them, I am sure you will enjoy watching these videos.
The first one is a combination of the previously mentioned Mercury, and a cover of Bruce Springsteen’s The River, which they were asked to perform as part of a tribute album to Bruce.
Next is a touching song about the beauty and struggles of helping your children growing up. This video is just of Scott Blasey, the lead singer, performing the song as part of an interview on a local Pittsburgh TV show:
Here is a song that I liked the lyrics to, finding them pretty clever, so I thought I’d share a video that provides all the lyrics:
and finally, here is one of their “classic” songs, and one they performed last night. I could see why it is a fan favorite:
So thank you to the hosts for inviting us to such a special evening.
And a big thank you to The Clarks for sharing your time, your talent, and yourself with us for the evening. I look forward to the next time we get to see you perform.