Zac Clark, Bob Oxblood to perform original music at Wilkes-Barre’s Karl Hall
Source: elevamyMountains - Zac Clark (The Pageant 4/11/18)
Zac Clark and Bob Oxblood are most widely known for their work with popular singer-songwriter and pianist Andrew McMahon — Clark in Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness and Oxblood in Jack’s Mannequin — but it’s their own adept prowess as songwriters that has the artists on tours across the United States that overlap in a few cities, including Wilkes-Barre.
Clark and Oxblood will perform their original music during a show that begins at 8 p.m. July 17 at Karl Hall.
Clark, who called the Times Leader from the road en route to his next tour stop, said he’s looking forward to playing at the venue operated by Wilkes-Barre musician A.J. Jump, whom Oxblood met during their mutual days in the Brooklyn, N.Y., music scene and tapped for an EP.
“It’s exciting to link up with guys like A.J., who are building their dreams of bringing people together,” Clark said. “He’s a guy who’s played brilliant drums on great music that’s out there, and he’s building up his own community.”
With his latest, eponymous record scheduled for release on Aug. 31, Clark has been musing about how self-titling his upcoming volume is part of a realization that he’s coming into his own as a songsmith.
“Touring with Andrew (McMahon) and with all the guys and gals in that crew and that band, that’s been huge in terms of finding myself,” Clark said. “Playing with people I look up to and have such a mutual fan, friend and colleague relationship with, that’s the ultimate way to find yourself, to find these potent and high-resolution mirrors.”
While on tour with McMahon, Clark began writing and recording in hotel rooms and the backs of buses and “pulled over on the side of the road or in a dear friend’s driveway,” and, he said, the songs are a pastiche of the the places he’s been and the “feelings and textures” he’s experienced along the way.
“In the midst of making this record, for the first time, I had taken my time on a body of work and fit it in while working with Andrew,” Clark said. “Playing with other people has been a path to being a little quieter about myself, deferring the announcement of self. It really came down to looking my mentor and friend Andrew in the eyes and having him say, ‘Hey man, it’s time. You need to take the reins on this and not let it murmur in the background.
“This record exemplifies that, lyrically and emotionally. I’m trying to pass that on to people: the idea of inviting your next self to the table as quickly as possible.”
Clark has released three singles off the record, “Mountains,” “Love You Later” and “Most of My Angels,” and the sample he’s offered touches on everything from anthemic pop-rock balladry to melancholy soul to classic piano-driven rock ‘n’ roll.
“I’m back to a place where I’m most comfortable,” Clark said of the songwriting process,” putting down a song as it’s being written and relying on that core piece, whether a vocal or a keyboard part, and making sure that thread remains the lifeline of the song.”
To share some of his tour with Oxblood, an artist he has known for a decade and admired for longer, Clark said, is a privilege.
“Over the years, I was kind of the goofy kid who was motivated by these guys,” Clark said. “I was such a huge fan … and I kept hanging out and bringing CDs of what I was working on. With Bob, to realize what a magical force of nature he is as a songwriter and guitarist and producer, has been incredible. He’s a guy who won’t accept limitations on his or anyone else’s music that he works on.
“I can’t say enough of how glorious he is as a human being and what an asset he’s been to Andrew and John Legend and everybody he’s collaborated with.”
Clark’s upcoming album, while not officially released until the end of August, will be available in physical copies at his shows, an offering that, for him, is both a show of appreciation to those who support live music and a hearkening back to those days when he brought his early work to McMahon and Oxblood’s shows.
“We just did a show in Kansas City, and this kind guy gave us his music, and we could tell he felt like it was cheesy or cliche to approach us in that moment,” Clark said. “I just kind of put my hand on his shoulder and said, ‘Dude, the reason I’m here is I was the guy giving people my CDs and not worrying about how cheesy it was.’ I believe the more open or more kind you are and celebratory of the people around you, the more you disarm them, and we all start working together.”
Reach Matt Mattei at 570-991-6651 or on Twitter @TimesLeaderMatt.
IF YOU GO
What: Zac Clark (of Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness), Bob Oxblood (of Jack’s Mannequin
When: Doors open at 7:30 p.m.; show begins at 8 p.m. July 17
Where: Karl Hall, 57 B N. Main St., Wilkes-Barre
Additional information: Tickets cost $14.36, including fees, and are available in advance at karlhall.org. All ages are welcome. BYOB for patrons 21 and older.