Posted: 08-21-2013
James Ethan Clark's "Southern Hotel" Record Release Party

Written by Chris Pendergast // Photography by Ty Phillips Photography

James Ethan Clark and The Renegades rocked the Brooklyn Arts Center on Friday, April 5, with help from Sean Thomas Gerard and Mike Blair and the Stonewalls. In support of his just released LP, Southern Hotel, Clark and his friends kept the energy-level sky-high all through the night. The crowd was loyal and loud and rocked like crazy until the last note was played. “I have to work at six in the morning,” Tim Nasman, a huge fan, said, “but this is totally worth it.”

Sean Thomas Gerard from popular local roots rockers Onward, Soldier, played solo for this gig. Gerard showcased his original music with the accompaniment of his keyboard, providing beats behind his powerful electric guitar. His lyrics gave insight to his struggle with being a musician contrasted with his attempt to put a positive spin on his life. In the song Everlasting, ambient airwaves swept beneath Gerard’s powerful riffs and rollercoaster vocals, creating a perfect marriage between tune and tone. “Sometimes it’s tough,” Gerard said. “But I love it.”

Mike Blair and The Stonewalls followed Gerard and captivated the crowd, as usual, with their folk-rock magic, melodic progressions, and pitch-perfect vocals. “When I write a song, there’s no particular rhyme or reason,” Blair said, after the show. “I just follow my heart and write how it feels.” Blair and The Stonewalls electrified the BAC with their soulful harmonies and energetic riffs. Hits like Daisy, Another Town, and Kiss Me highlighted blistering solos. The band closed their set with Our Time, a ballad about surrounding yourself with the people you love and wanting to live in the moment. At the end of the anthem-like, power ballad, Blair looked up from the mic and into the crowd and said, “See you on the other side.”

Headliner James Ethan Clark ended the evening rocking the room with The Renegades. He played his debut album all the way through, beginning with Destination, a kick-ass starter, featuring intense licks and vocals. The setlist showcased sentimental ballads, and high-powered jams, including the barnburner God Knows When, which gave his fans a taste of what is yet to come from this star on the rise. Clark dazzled the crowd with his range in Forbidden Fruit, while Flowers Die At Night opened quietly, only to bloom into a seven-minute cluster of beautiful and intertwining melodies. The young musician had a smile on his face during every song. He danced and ran across the stage as his dreams unfolded in the music. He ended the night with the autobiographical Seattleville and It Couldn’t Be Ann. But, before the band could even get off the stage, the crowd screamed for an encore, and Clark and The Renegades came back for a splendid cover of The Allman Brothers’ Melissa. After the show, the singer/songwriter spoke to fans and signed autographs. “It was special to play a gig like this in Wilmington,” Clark said. “This town has been nothing but good to me.”


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