Playbill

A Hollywood screenwriter could have penned Wesley Curely Clark's life. Or at least a Behind the Music scribe could.

Act I: The early years. During the '50s and '60s Clark is an influential blues musician who becomes something of a legend in Austin, yet remains virtually unknown outside Texas. In the early '70s the singer-guitarist is about to get his big break when a record deal falls through and he takes a day job as a mechanic. The man who would be the Godfather of the Austin Blues Scene is fixing cars for a living -- a situation not quite as obscene as when Muddy Waters resorted to painting walls at Chess Records to make ends meet, but disturbing nonetheless.

Act II: An upstart by the name of Stevie Ray Vaughan insists that Clark join his band and, in the process, brings the blues legend back to the forefront of the Austin scene. Clark co-writes the song "Cold Shot," which becomes one of Vaughan's most popular tunes. A reinvigorated Clark leaves Vaughan's band in the late '70s to form the W.C. Clark Blues Revue, which becomes a fixture in Austin and opens for likes of B.B. King and Albert King. In the middle of Clark's resurgence, Vaughan dies.

Act III: Well, no drug problem to report here, so maybe this won't make a good episode of Behind the Music. In 1994 Clark releases his first album on a legit label, the critically acclaimed Heart of Gold for the New Orleans-based Black Top. He starts to get national attention, but tragedy strikes in March 1997, when Clark is involved in a car accident while returning from a Midwestern tour. His fiancée and drummer are killed.

Act IV: Clark makes a triumphant return later that year at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival. Clark accepts the W.C. Handy Award for Best Soul/Blues Album for Texas Soul. Down Beat calls Clark "an American classic." Fade to black.

Epilogue: Show up at Billy Blues to hear a 61-year-old Austin legend play the blues.

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