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)
The Psychedelic Cowboys
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