Kai Clark chats about the upcoming 70th Birthday Tribute

The Gene Jackpot

We hit the Gene Clark jackpot in 2014.  First, The Byrd Who Flew Alone, Four Suns' excellent, definitive bio, had a series of triumphant showings across the US.  Early in the year, the Beach House-inspired No Other Tour, that featured a who's-who of Indie excellence, reintroduced Gene's short-shrifted masterpiece to a new generation of fans (and, amazingly, catapulted Gene's original album to the Amazon top 10). And High Moon Records' lavish reissue of Two Sides To Every Story conferred new respect upon an album that had been previously dismissed by many critics (including, most notoriously, Rolling Stone).

Kai Clark, with whom The Clarkophile last spoke in 2011, is just as astonished as the rest of us about this sudden popularity. "Dad’s whole career is taking off 23 years later after his death," he says. "It keeps amazing me how much he did, and how many people he touched."

The success of the No Other Band tour did not go unnoticed by the Clark family.  "They did a great job with that," Kai says. "It’s great to see the younger generation – my generation and younger – really picking it up.  People are starting listen to it again and say 'Wow, where was this guy?'  It really warms my heart to see people picking up on my dad’s music."

Speaking of picking up on Gene's music, in recognition of would have been his father's 70th birthday (Gene was born November 17, 1944), Kai has organized a tribute show in LA that will feature an entire evening devoted to the music of Gene Clark (full details below).  A sister tribute is planned for November 15 in Tipton, MO.

As the show approaches, Kai acknowledges both the exhilaration and the pressure of donning multiple roles: organizer, promoter and performer. "It’s getting really exciting at this point," he says. "It’s crunch time now for me, putting it all together.  And I have to pick songs.  It’s like, which ones do I pick, you know?  But being as it would’ve been dad’s 70th birthday I hope to pick some intimate songs that really mean a lot to me, and I hope to pay my respects through those songs."

What is it like for Kai to play his dad's songs? "There are some specific songs that really speak to me.  As a kid, when dad was still alive, I would play some of those.  I think with age, though, it really gives me the feel of how deep my father was intellectually, and in a writing sense.  For someone that wasn’t a scholar or a writer in the broader sense, it’s just amazing.  It makes me think of how much he had running through him as kind of a conduit."  Kai mentions the ethereal 'Silver Raven' as a personal favourite. "I relate some of it to my life," he says, "but mostly it just makes me think of my father – just my dad, in that sense of growing up and listening to him playing and the emotion and passion he had while playing."

For those of us who sometimes allow ourselves to become obsessed with the minutia of Gene's career as a legendary songwriter, Kai's use of the phrase "my dad" is a sobering reminder that we're not talking about songwriting credits or a picture on an album cover.  We are speaking about someone's father. That said, it is comforting to know that at times even Kai can sound like a geeky, besotted fan.  He admits that he's blown away "all the time" by Gene's artistry. "Here, he’ll be going along in a major and then all of sudden there’s this minor seventh," he says with a astonished chuckle.  "That’s a Gene Clark trait -- you’ll be rolling along through the song and he’ll hit this one note and you go 'Wow'".

Gene Clark 70th Birthday Tribute
Nov 16, 2014 6:00 PM 

Jangle Brothers (with John York)
Carla Olson
Kai Clark
The Psychedelic Cowboys
The Digs
The Willows
Bob Woodruff Band
MC: Zachariah Selwyn

The Hotel Café
1623 Cahuenga Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90028 United States
Pre-Sale Price: $20.00
Service Charge: $4.00
Pre-Sales Close Nov 16, 2014 5:00 PM


lost_jewels said…
Wow. A dream comes through. TYVM Kai and Tom.
Keep my fingers crossed and hold my breath.
Unknown said…
100 x WOW! Can't wait. Great article thanks
Henrique said…
Here it goes: WOW!!!
Tom, although you don't know me, I feel the need to honor the role of this website in fueling my passion (and of many more people, I'm sure) of Gene's art by getting more into the man, his life and his motivations. To quote Picasso:

"It is not what the artist does that counts. But what he is. Cézanne would never have interested me if he had lived and thought like Jaques-Emile Blanche, even if the apple he had painted had been ten times more beautiful. What interests us is the anxiety of Cézanne, the teaching of Cézanne, the anguish of Van Gogh, in short the inner drama of the man. The rest is false."

I don't mean to be as extreme as Picasso, but I guess you get the idea. Thank you a lot.
The Clarkophile said…
Hi Henrique,
Thank you so much forward the kind words. I really appreciate your taking the time to leave a comment.
daragho said…
Hi Tom,
Thanks for this. Did you remove the bit where Kai talks about a forthcoming archive release? It sounds really tantalising!
Anonymous said…
Bob Woodruff Band is on the bill but missing from this notice!! Hope you fix that. He is also singing with Carla. Best, Nelson Bragg
Marianne Szlyk said…
Hello all...

I thought you might like to see Ed Schelb's poem that is part of a contest honoring Gene Clark:


Enjoy "Bird Call Dance Hall," and feel free to pass it on! I am enjoying your blog, too.

Best of luck with the tribute concert,

Marianne Szlyk
Unknown said…
Hello fellow Clarkophiles,

Does anyone out there have nay more information about the upcoming archival release that was mentioned in the original version of this post? I can't find anymore information about it online. Keep up the great work Clarkophile!
Anonymous said…
I have been a fan of the Byrds since the first album. Gene's music was always my favorite and I have some of his solo albums. I was also lucky enough to have met him when he Roger and Chris were performing together. He will live on in his music. I am thrilled that people are celebrating the man and his music still. Any chance of any tribute shows hitting the East Coast?

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