■ Rusty Strait / Senior Reporter
During the day, Geoff Clark teaches seventh grade science at North Mountain Middle School in San Jacinto. But at night he can often be found with his guitar playing at open mic spots throughout the county, or strumming his six kids to sleep with tunes they like to hear.
Clark will be featured at Derby’s Bar and Grill in Hemet on Saturday, Nov. 11, with not only music of the ‘70s to date, but some homespun pieces that might be surprising to those who live only in the present.
A graduate of Hemet High School in 1989, Clark attended Brigham Young University (BYU) on a baseball scholarship where he stood out as a center fielder.
How did he come about the guitar and why did he pursue it?
“A friend from high school, Daryl Bean, had an old guitar in his closet. I saw it and was immediately interested,” said Clark. “He told me that if I really would like it, it was mine.”
Clark fixed it up and enrolled in a music class at BYU where he reached back to the days of his grandmother, when he plunked out “When the Saints Go Marching In.”
After graduation, he returned to Hemet where, in 1997 he took a teaching job near his hometown. But he never forgot his musical journey. He began to show up with his guitar at open mic events around Hemet, Temecula and other towns in Western Riverside County, which brings us to this weekend.
What will be on his agenda Saturday night at Derby’s?
“Oh, I’ll be covering the ‘70s forward, plus a couple of my own compositions.”
In his early days who influenced him musically?
“John Mellancamp, Bob Seeger and some old country musicians that my grandmother listened to,” said Clark.
How about today? Who are his current influences?
“Maybe you never heard of them. Locals probably do. A group called Band of Horses, another guy named Amos Lee who plays like a folk singer with a little bit of blues on the side,” he said. “Of course Mellancamp, John Prine and Bonnie Raitt.”
I reminded him that Bonnie’s father, John Raitt, was a Broadway and Hollywood musical star. He didn’t know that. I enjoyed letting him know that music has a past that is at least as good as the modern crop. Come out and see him. You might find something for all ages. Just sayin’.
Derby’s Bar and Grill is located at 2860 W. Florida Ave. in Hemet.