Ten Shots with Al Clark of A TON OF BLUES

By Georgetown Fats
September 2012

Admittedly while I am not a fan of the concept of the regional blues society challenges, when an unknown-to-me band comes into The Challenge and makes their presence known, it is tough not to pay attention and realize why the Boston Blues Society Board members and volunteers spend countless hours volunteering, organizing and choreographing one of our signature events.

Getting an introduction to some of the folks in the band and finding out that they are ‘kindred spirits’ makes the long hours on Sunday nights and early Monday mornings that much more enjoyable. That is how I came to connect with Al Clark, the percussionist for A TON OF BLUES.

Georgetown Fats - How did you cross paths with the other members of A TON OF BLUES?

Al Clark of A Ton of Blues - I met the guys at a jam they were holding at Beemers Pub in Fitchburg. I heard they were looking for a drummer so I went down and played and they invited me to a rehearsal and the rest is history.

Georgetown Fats – You have admitted previously that before A TON OF BLUES you didn’t really come from a blues background. I’m curious to learn just what other styles of music you were performing in bands or enjoying in your ‘down time’?

Al Clark of A Ton of Blues - I played in a band when I was eighteen with a woman I met through a guy I worked with. It was a black metal type of thing (not really my cup of tea) but it was a gig. Ya know. I was also in a punk/ska/reggae type band, more my speed and also it was my first experience with playing out (live performances). As far as what I listen to, it ranges from Suicidal Tendencies to Otis Reading.

Georgetown Fats – For a relatively new blues acts, A TON OF BLUES seems to both gig regularly and be well known. Can you describe some of what goes on behind the scenes that keeps you guys booked regularly?

Al Clark of A Ton of Blues - Well we work really hard at keeping the focus of a business. Mike "Spud" Kelly does all our booking he works his ass off to keep us as busy as possible.

Georgetown Fats – Other than A TON OF BLUES’ great (somewhat) new initial offering Crooked Avenue, what are some of the blues acts you dig?

Al Clark of A Ton of Blues - Locally I really dig The Delta Generators those cats are fantastic. Willie J. Laws is another act I love, both bands are really great musicians and also good people.

Georgetown Fats - After the recent arrest of Mick Brown, Ted Nugent's drummer allegedly guilty of GCUI (golf carting under the influence), does this enhance the stereotype of drummers being ‘a bit off’ or are drummers really just misunderstood?

Al Clark of A Ton of Blues - Drummers are definitely a different breed. There is a saying "drummers are born not made;" as for me I'm pretty normal (hahahaha).

Georgetown Fats- *maniacal laugh*

Georgetown Fats – If you couldn’t fail, what would you be?

Al Clark of A Ton of Blues - I would be a full time musician.

Georgetown Fats – Are you a Pataflafla or a single dragadiddle guy? Excuse the shop talk, I just like to know I’ve sent some readers off to Wiki to figure out what the hell we are talking about?

Al Clark- I personally trend towards basic rudiments ie; Paradiddles, singles,and flams. Although I practice a lot of different rudiments to avoid boredom. Plus blues is more about the groove and listening to what's going on around you and trying to add feel and emotion to the songs being played more than trying to do a bunch of stuff over the top. A lesson to all drummers is to GROOVE - that's our job to be felt not heard, if that makes any sense.

Georgetown Fats – Are there any highlights from the trip down to Memphis for the International Blues Challenge you can share? Names should not be changed to protect the guilty.

Al Clark- The Memphis trip was amazing. We saw (and met) a lot of great bands and fans of the blues. The whole trip was a highlight. As far as guilty parties goes, a gentleman never tells HAHA! I also would like to personally thank The Boston Blues Society for giving us the honor of representing Boston in Memphis.

Georgetown Fats – Are there any big plans for A TON OF BLUES for the remainder of 2012 or 2013? Are you guys coming back to retain the Boston Blues Challenge crown?

Al Clark- We are going to play the Blues and Brews Festival at Nashoba Valley this summer as well as The Onset Blues Festival and The Utica Music Festival in New York state. And yes we definitely will be entering this years Boston Blues Challenge.

Georgetown Fats - Are there any tales from the road you care to share? Names can be changed to protect the guilty, but I am either looking for something that makes the lay-fan understand that playing music professionally is actual “work,” or a humorous road tale? In a pinch, ratting out one of the other guys in the band or a groupie would be perfectly acceptable.

Al Clark- We haven't done a lot of touring to date but the little we have done has been fun. It is "work:" you drive for hours, stay in cheap hotels/motels trying to budget what little money you have, then there is setting up, breaking down, loading and unloading all the gear (while exhausted because you still work a full time job) and making sure you give people a great show. It may not sound like much but it can be tough. Humorous road story hmmmmmmm? None I can mention without backlash from the guys!

Georgetown Fats - What does a bass player use as contraception?

Al Clark- That's disturbing to even think about (thanks for that visual)!

Georgetown Fats - When you're not gigging or rehearsing with A TON OF BLUES, what do you do in your down time?

Al Clark- Work! HAHA

Georgetown Fats - It is a recycled question, but it always manages to get great responses. What do you plan on putting in your contract rider once you’ve ‘made it’?

Al Clark- Happy Endings (wink wink)

If you have not had a chance to check out A TON OF BLUES live yet, be sure to check out their site (www.atonofblues.com/) to find out when they are in your area. Given their aggressive booking schedule it is only a matter of time before A Ton of Blues is in your area and given their unique Chicago Blues Sound you can either catch them soon locally within your area at a local bar or at a much higher ticket price when they are touring nationally opening for national acts or headlining bills on the blues club circuit.

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