Austin, Texas — Terri Clark appeared surprised by the enthusiastic response that greeted her solo acoustic set Wednesday night at the annual South by Southwest music conference.
Appearing at midnight at legendary blues club Antone’s, the mainstream country artist previewed her next album and treated fans to performances of two past hits: Warren Zevon’s “Poor, Poor Pitiful Me” and her own “If I Were You.”
“This is an alternative rock, independent sort of thing that’s going on here,” Clark said of the conference during an interview on her bus following her performance.
“I’ve been to South by Southwest before (as a fan). I like so many kinds of music, and my new album reflects some of the folk influences that I like so much and the rock influences. It’s a little more of an artistic departure for me. I thought it would be cool to come do an acoustic set here and see what happens.”
Clark followed Irish singer/songwriter David Gray and his band, recently signed to Dave Matthews’ label. She worried that there might not be a high level of awareness for her or her music.
“I was very surprised,” she said. “There were some fans out there, so I was happy. I felt a little better after that. They liked the new songs.”
In a black knit top, black leather pants and motorcycle-style boots –and without a cowboy hat — Clark performed songs she has co-written with Mary Chapin Carpenter (with whom she shares a manager), Angelo, Gary Burr and Beth Nielsen Chapman and Annie Roboff. She explored themes dealing with living in the moment, slowing down the pace of life and emotionally honest, soul-bearing love. As yet untitled, the new work, produced by guitarist Steuart Smith, is projected for release in late summer.
Clark will speak Friday on a panel devoted to artists’ concerns in the music business, and she performs Friday night at the Austin Rodeo.
“This album is who I am, a part of where I’m at right now as a person, an artist and a songwriter,” she said. “It’s all-encompassing of everything that I am right now. You have to do that, as a creative person. You have to get that out in your outlet, which is music.”