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Presented with Comment: Who is Today's Best Guitarist? Pt. 1

It is time for our Sunday piece, Presented with Comment, where each week Michael and Nicholas La Torre take a turn engaging in a debate over alt topics of interest and gauging the audience's views on the issues at hand. To do this, the authors will present examples to support their opinions and not only get the audience's view on the two sides presented, but seek feedback from the audience on alternatives as well.

(Photo Credit: Joey Martinez)

Dubbed "The Chosen One" by B.B. King and Eric Clapton, once named Rolling Stone's "Best Young Gun" of 2011, the best guitarist in the alt scene today is Gary Clark Jr. (GCJ). He's shared the stage with King, Clapton, and the Rolling Stones. His music has often been compared to Jimi Hendrix, he's just that good. GCJ has been on the scene for a couple of years now with two studio albums and two live albums. Needless to say, the Austin, Texas native has had immense success and he's only 34 years old.

Despite all of the success, GCJ is a musician who both knows and honors the roots of the blues and rock music he plays. For example, he has covered many traditional blues songs such as "Catfish Blues", a song that has been played by legends such as Muddy Waters and Jimi Hendrix. On the song, GCJ displays amazing technique with blistering solos and melody that truly gives GCJ a version of the song that stands with the Waters and Hendrix versions.

Even when GCJ plays his original music, there is something profound about it. It doesn't feel like you're listening to a single by just any artist. You feel like you're listening to something that is already a classic. This is partially because of the alt-blues and soul genres that GCJ plays in. But it is primarily due to his immense talent.

In "The Healing" we again see GCJ displaying his signature guitar work, all while showing off his fantastic vocal range. In his music, not only goes he have a vocal signature, he has a signature guitar style as well. It is powerful, full of overdrive and fuzz and prominently displayed on every track.

What is also great about GCJ's guitar work is that he throws in blues licks throughout songs that may seem like they come out of nowhere, but are actually meticulously placed. He is modernizing classic blues guitar norms, but speeding them up. What you have is a style that reminds of classic blues, but is brought into the present.

GCJ has brought the blues to an entire generation of fans that otherwise may not have heard it. A big part of that is his guitar and if you haven't taken the time to check him out, you need to do that. Finally, here is a live performance of GCJ playing "When My Train Pulls In" and original, watch this and tell me I'm wrong.

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