If you're ever in need of a friend, simply put on the new studio album, Everybody's Buddy, by Mexican-American musician Nic Clark and let his uplifting and honest songs pass through those tough life moments. Produced by guitar-phenom Charlie Hunter in his new hometown of Greensboro, NC and set for release on Little Village (Release Date: June 16, 2023), Everybody's Buddy is a reflection of an everyday Generation Z kid trying his best while facing unsurmountable challenges that most Americans deal with daily. Nic Clark pours his emotions out on Everybody's Buddy, and there's a dose of humanity every step of the way. Charlie Hunter (guitar/bass) and George Sluppick (drums/Chris Robinson Brotherhood, Morgan James) dig into each track with Clark for deep in-the-pocket grooves, punchy pop numbers, and percussive vamps. Nic Clark celebrates the release of Everybody's Buddy with special performances on eTown on April 30 and Waterfront Blues Festival during July 4th weekend.
Nic Clark learned early on in the recording of Everybody's Buddy to not count himself out, which turned out to be the name of one of the tracks ("Don't Count Yourself Out"). He's lived a hard life battling an eating disorder since he was a young kid. In his teens and '20s, Clark weighed upwards of 400 pounds. It's a daily struggle for Clark, though he admits that his life is not all that different from many Americans.
Clark notes, "My experience is very common in America. I work an Amazon warehouse job, and I'm really ashamed of it. As a working musician, I need to make ends meet. Take one shift at an Amazon warehouse and you'll understand how everyone has the same problems as you. People are in recovery, supporting multi-generational families, etc. I'm just so grateful I have my music to keep me out of trouble."
Everybody's Buddy resonates across generations and musical genres with Clark's stories of relationship breakups, seeking Grandma's advice, getting in car crashes, having panic attacks, drinking way too much black coffee, unpaid medical bills, middle school struggles, and on and on. Everybody's Buddy opens with a Keb Mo-inflected track, "Laughing In The Rain," with a poppy-hook-ladened chorus. Clark admits he's a bit "of a space cadet, but I try to not feel bad about it. Whenever I can find a way to not come down on my myself, it's a triumph." It's a welcoming sound with the notes of his fiery harmonica and dobro inviting listeners into his world.
After traversing between Northern California and his home state of Colorado for two years, Clark's travels came to an abrupt halt when he ran out of cash in August 2022. Soon enough, he found himself driving his uncle to daily dialysis appointments during a time when his uncle mourned his mother's death after caretaking for her for 14 years. The passing of Clark's grandma was devastating and he wrote "It'll Be Alright" to cope.
The lead single "Try To Understand" on Everybody's Buddy is so infectious it's hard to believe it was written as the result of totaling two cars when he was 21 and 23 years-old. "It's all about moving on and living life with compassion for yourself, otherwise a self-hating voice will take over," says Clark. "The first accident happened during a down pour, while the other was on the way to the airport to see the farewell tour of Daniel Johnston in Portland. I made it to the show; one of the best concerts of my life."
"Good Advice" is the only cover song on the album, written by J.B. Lenoir. Before his grandma passed, Clark was walking to her house when he was 386 pounds and his girlfriend had just broken-up with him. After a four-hour conversation with Grandma, he began his weight-loss journey and continues to this day to be in a 12-step program for his eating disorder. He wrote the rendition of "Good Advice," but the loss of his grandma came to soon. He was never able to play it for her. Having it on Everybody's Buddy is his tribute to her.
Nearly every tune on Everybody's Buddy is dedicated to a dear friend of Clark's. It goes to show how much friendship means to the songwriter. "Hurricanes" is one of the oldest songs on the album and goes out to his buddy, Gino Matteo. While Clark was dealing with the devastations of being overweight and the relentless mockery in middle and high school (and skipping school to play music festivals by the age of 13), he talked to Gino about depression. "Gino told me when I reach out that everything I was talking about, he experienced 15 years prior. When things get dark as they do for musicians working for a living, Gino was there for me to keep things going."
"She's A Fighter" recalls a married couple (a nutritionist and musician) who've really helped Clark with his weight-loss. The wife was diagnosed with lime disease and the medical bills for the chronic disease were a constant struggle. As Clark watched them go through storm after storm, he wrote "She's A Fighter."
While addiction issues run in the family, Clark was unaware that his copious amounts of daily coffee during the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic were boosting his anxiety. It turns out that two nitro cold brews, two venti black coffees, and a tall coffee to end every day was the fuel he didn't need, as he sings on "Anxiety Blues."
"How I Met The Blues" takes a darker turn on the album, a song he wrote when he was a mere 11-years-old. The sudden death of his 13-year-old cousin turned the first day of summer break into a living hell. Thankfully, he leaned heavily into the harmonica to express emotions he couldn't get out any other way. Clark notes, "I was really hesitant to play this one for Charlie and George. We had just met and my trust just wasn't there yet. Well, we started playing it, and I couldn't stop shaking. I hit a really vulnerable spot. If you are going to sing the blues, there's an obligation to not hold back and just do it."
"Flying Blind" dives back into struggles with middle school. This time around it was his niece's struggles. Clark's large family meant they all helped out in various ways, and Clark helped raise his niece and nephew. He's never performed the song for her. Sacred pedal steel player DaShawn Hickman appears on the track with Clark.
The namesake song "Everybody's Buddy" is Clark's theme song as such a positive spirit in this world. A combination of his favorite songwriters Ray Bonneville and Jon Snodgrass, Clark sings praises to "all his friends." The final track "Breathe Slow" calls on a friend who had a panic attack while driving on the highway. When Clark heard this happened, it seriously messed him up and he wrote "Breathe Slow." Sometime after writing the song, Clark himself experienced a panic attack on highway 85 in California, and luckily, he was close to an off-ramp, and he got himself safely into a Walmart parking lot to settle down.
"I know how terrible and sad life can be, and these songs are trying to get you out of these moments when you think everything is hopeless," says Nic Clark. "When I'm really down and can't see the brighter side, I put on Mavis Staples and instantly get back to it."
Clark lends his inspiring music to those in need by leading harmonica workshops and live performances at Denver Children's hospitals, the Children's Hospital in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, the Bayview Opera House Covid-19 testing vaccination site in San Francisco as part of an outreach program with Hardly Strictly Bluegrass, and virtual performances for various detention centers through the non-profit Bread & Roses.
About Little Village Little Village is a non-profit cultural producer and record label that searches out, discovers, records and produces music that otherwise would not be heard beyond the artist's family and community. Little Village supports the dreams of artists from non-traditional backgrounds. Many of these artists make music just as a part of telling their community stories. Through some detective work and the help of an extensive network from his acclaimed performing career, Executive Director Jim Pugh learns of great music happening in communities throughout the country, music that has deep roots in American popular and roots traditions. He then offers to record their music at no expense to the artist at all. Usually, this is the very first time the artist has been recorded. Not only is there no expense to the artist, Little Village owns zero intellectual property for the music and sets up all retail accounts for the sales of CDs in the artists' names. This happens with generous public donations and grants.