One local musician has been gracing the region with his talent for more than three decades.

Dave Clark, a Herrin native, began singing in 1986 with his family’s gospel group. He did some traveling at the time, and sang in church. Music is something that he grew up with, and became the norm for him.

In 1992, he changed course and dove into the world of country music.

He mainly sings cover songs, but has a few originals. He said the local audiences enjoy the familiar songs they can sing along with. Once in awhile he will throw in an original song, but it’s not his main act.

Most of his shows are solo shows, with himself and his guitar,  but he also plays with his band, Jackson Junction, which was started in 1975. The band has evolved over the years, and only retains one original member.

He said the solo shows are good for small bar settings because they allow him to be more intimate with the audience. He might have a set list ready, but he mostly flows with the audience and what they are responding to and requesting.

Some of Clark’s favorites to play include artists like Merle Haggard, Waylon Jennings and Johnny Cash. More often, he plays a lot of country hits from the ’90s, like Toby Keith, Clint Black and George Straight. Since he started his country career in that decade, he knows the music well.

Every so often he will slide in some classic rock, such as James Taylor and Bob Seger.

He has also been known to open up for some big names, like Mark Wills, LeAnn Rhimes and Blake Shelton. He has played with Mark T. Barnes, who is a top songwriter in Nashville, Tenn.

By day, Clark works at Diagraph MSP in Marion. He has four children: Brandon, who enjoys working in the rap genre; Kenton; Dylan, who has a rock band called the Toy Cowboys; and Baili, who is into dance.

He also has two stepchildren with his wife, Melissa Clark: Layla and Braxton.

Between work and family life, Clark keeps a steady stream of shows on his calendar.

Currently, Clark is working on compiling a gospel album in honor of his family. He is also a part of the formation of the Southern Illinois Songwriters Association–which is composed of several local artists. They are just getting this organization going, so Clark is focusing on writing original music.

“I want to get more into writing this year,” he said.

He said local artists are pretty tight-knit, and help each other out a lot. This atmosphere is starting to draw some artists from Nashville, since the atmosphere is much different and the music scene is not short of talent.

Clark has several shows coming up, including a solo show at the Pin Oak Pub in Carterville on Jan. 24.