superjam144

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I love Stevie Ray Vaughan.
His music.
His playing style.
His tone.
His singing voice.

The instruments and effects and amps he used has affected my instrument choices (along with a million other blues and rock players) down to this day.

His battered-Strat-and-black-bolero-cowboy-gypsy image—too often imitated, and never equaled—was a spectacular package to behold.

The background story of a less-handsome little brother living in the shadow of a often-dismissive and sometimes-contentious older sibling resonates greatly with me (personally)…add the ramshackle Oak Cliff childhood and status as an outsider in his own hometown, it becomes even more resonant to me.

His initial professional struggles and failures, followed by unexpected success in a landscape of synths, drum machines and hairspray makes me smile.

The fact that he told an established superstar (David Bowie), “Thanks but no thanks, I got my own thang to do…” when it could have led to a lot of professional exposure just oozes Texas Swagger (which I love).

The fact that his ground-breaking first album was recorded in just a couple of days of studio time borrowed from another superstar (Jackson Browne), along with the tickling of my Guitar Nerddom because those studio session led to SRV discovering a rare and iconic amplifier (Dumble), which shaped his sound even further.

The story arc of alcohol and drug abuse, hitting rock bottom, then redemption through rehab, then making two more (spectacular) albums while sober, overcoming his fear of playing without some chemical help/enhancement is inspiring.

The similar and related aspect of a toxic and occasionally abusive marriage, which fell apart and was followed by a meet-cute story of literally seeing a girl on the side of the road in a foreign country and stopping to introduce himself, is a dramatic rom-com in the making.

The fact that the second album of his sober life was two full-circle moments (reuniting with Nile Rogers, who was instrumental in Stevie’s first professional success on David Bowie’s “Let’s Dance” and—probably more importantly—the first full album of playing with his big brother) deepens the tragedy and inspiration—the romance, if you will.

His untimely death, when on the brink of…well, who knows what…is tragic and painful for fans of his music as well as his bandmates and friends.

Even the melodrama of his backing band moving forward with (first) the Arc Angels and (second) Storyville, with episodes of playing with multiple guitarslingers (Susan Tedeschi, Kenny Wayne Shepherd, etc) littered along the way is interesting and melancholic.

I don’t know why Hollywood hasn’t snapped up the rights to make this into a movie. The entire story is as cinematic as award-winning biopics like The Buddy Holly Story, La Bamba (Ritchie Valens), Ray (Ray Charles) or Walk The Line (Johnny Cash).

Jimmie’s quote sums it up pretty good:

“The world misses his music, but I miss my brother.”

Not to diminish Jimmie’s relationship with Stevie or his pain, but a lot of people feel the same way, myself included.

Having said all that, there is a second aspect to Stevie’s death that I think goes just as deep and has affected the music (blues) I love so much.

Stevie’s death was a severe blow to the music world, but more so to the blues world in particular. He led the charge, the revolution, the resurrection of Blues music as a viable and profitable product in the 1980’s. His success led to wider recognition for artists who’d been around and playing music for a long time—folks like Robert Cray, whose smoother delivery and sweeter sound belied his ability to *Bring It* when the time came, and his brother’s band, the Fabulous Thunderbirds—who’d already made four of the finest blues albums in history, yet been released and relegated by their label because mainstream success eluded them. The attention given to Stevie led to attention being given to Jimmie and Kim Wilson, who were given another chance, and delivered in spades throughout the rest of the decade.

The whole Austin Blues scene—centered especially around Clifford Antone’s namesake club—was already firmly established by 1983, when “Texas Flood” was released…but the success of the disc brought more national, and eventually international attention to the scene. It grew exponentially, but still seemed to stay true to its roots. Clifford’s habit of mixing new young blood with old legendary players (like putting the T-Birds behind Muddy Waters, putting Stevie onstage with Albert King and later, dropping Sue Foley off to play with Buddy Guy and Albert Collins) continued to foster new growth while strengthening old roots, to great results. The Texas Blues scene became so dominant that a mainstream movie set in Chicago (Adventures in Babysitting), used a Texas Blues guy (Albert Collins) for an important scene, instead of drawing from the local Chicago talent that was undoubtedly available.

The Dallas and Fort Worth blues scenes (close in geography but distant in style and personnel) grew greatly as well; Houston’s pre-existing scene benefitted along the way.

Blues had a scene that could be a worldwide focal point. All was good.

However, there’s some evidence that the whole thing started crumbling when Stevie died.

Just like an old tree doesn’t die just because a limb or two cracks, it wasn’t an immediate collapse. There was great blues and blues-based music made—in Texas and elsewhere—after Stevie’s death (and there still is).

The first big problem was that a lot of people decided that somebody—anybody—needed to fill Stevie’s boots…and the second big problem was that a lot of guitarists tried.

I’m not criticizing the Vaughan-a-bees for their musicianship. Anybody that can reasonably cop SRV’s licks obviously has some talent, aptitude and ability on guitar. But by copying him note-for-note, lick-by-lick and tone-for-tone, those copyists are missing what made Stevie so revolutionary.

Stevie Vaughan copied, borrowed and stole from everybody (as all good musicians do), not just a singular source. He could have made a (reasonable) career just copying Hendrix (like Ernie Isley and Robin Trower and Lance Lopez have done)…he also sounded so much like Albert King that Nile Rogers told David Bowie, “Man, I didn’t know you wanted that on your album—if I’d known, we could have called Albert himself!” (I’m paraphrasing, don’t @me).

But Stevie wisely took a plank or a brick or a shingle from each of his heroes’ homes and made his own castle.

Listening to an album you’d hear traces of Lonnie Mack or Buddy Guy or Hubert Sumlin or Kenny Burrell or Otis Rush or Howlin’ Wolf or the aforementioned Albert King and Jimi Hendrix—or a dozen other influences…but he also sounded exactly like himself, like all those flavors were being blended up in that beat-up Strat and spewed out through a pair of Vibroverbs.

His music was impactful because it sounded familiar, but it also sounded fresh.

He was embraced by his forebears and old-time blues fans was because they could hear his respect for and homages to themselves and their peers.

He was embraced by newer blues enthusiasts because it wasn’t a fourth-generation rehash of what they’d been listening to all their lives.

Stevie sounded like old blues, but with a second gear.

But nowadays, when I hear “Latest Vaughnabee X” I think, “Not bad…now show me your second gear.”

Some have grown into it—they started out with him as a major (or even singular) influence, and matured as a musician to where his influence is still heard, but has become a piece of the puzzle rather than the whole picture.

Some have never grown beyond it, and seemingly never will. They’re not just stuck in first gear, some have put the car in park and they’re just idling.

The problem this phenomenon (“finding/becoming the next SRV”) created is that blues and blues/rock stagnated for 20 years. There was little or no growth, overall, and a large number of marginal blues fans have grown tired of the genre…and since the money isn’t made on the hard-core fans, but rather the (larger) mainstream demographic, festivals, clubs and even regional scenes have shrunk, suffered or died.

The hardcore fans (such as me) are still there; I’ve branched out and explored sub-genres that I was aware of but not well-versed in (North Mississippi Hill Country Blues artists such as Junior Kimbrough and RL Burnside, as well as their acolytes such the North Mississippi All-Stars and The Black Keys). Artists such as Eve Monsees and Mike Flanigan have come into their own, and I’ve also continued to follow the folks who were around during Stevie’s lifetime—Derek O’Brien, Lou Ann Barton, the recently deceased Denney Freeman, Sue Foley, and of course, big brother Jimmie.

But I love the style and the art form, going as far back as Bessie Smith and Sylvester Weaver and on through Robert Johnson and Son House and Charley Patton and on through Muddy and Wolf and BB and…you get the point. I love blues, and I’ll keep listening to it.

So what is needed?

Well, in a way we need what we’ve been searching for—another Stevie Ray Vaughan…

No, not yet another person who plays like him, but a player who combines all the cool elements of their forebears and puts out a different-but-familiar sound that’s enjoyable across the board.

I was hoping it would be Gary Clark, Jr and Eve Monsees.

Mr. Clark has done a lot, and received a lot of mainstream attention, but his influence hasn’t become as wide-spread as SRV’s was…

I love the fact that Mr. Clark has re-opened Antone’s nightclub and Mrs. Monsees-Buck (yes, she married the Fabulous Thunderbirds’s original drummer, Mike Buck) is now proprietor of Antone’s Record Shop, but their musical influence is far from the mainstream, in total.

Blues needs a new revolution, a new scene, a new explosion…and us blues fans need it now!
Great tribute. Certainly a legend. Hard to top what he did with the art form. Power and brilliance. And a touch of his own soul.

Thanks for posting.
 

superjam144

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What did SRV and Hendrix have that no one else did? A supreme mastery of the guitar and their own language for communicating it. They played with an intensity previously unmatched, and a depth of emotion that could be felt in every note, and a uniqueness to their melodies and phrasing. There are great blues players, but no game changers. I really didn't relate much to Prince and his music, but he had those abilities and charisma.

I think what ultimately set srv and Hendrix apart from the flock was the way they put themselves in the music. They left nothing on the line, no facades, masks, imitations, or attempts to be anyone else.

Of course they used and learned from a vast catalogue of music, but at the end of the day, it was completely original because it was their paintbrush, their take.

I think sometimes alot of musicians fail to just be themselves.... Croce is another musician with uncanny presence.

Mississippi John hurt. Pete Seeger.
 

BorderRadio

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This whole (extremely) stupid conversation about race and “white boys” is wrong, and smacks of elitism and racism.

Muddy Waters embraced many, many young white practitioners of blues—Johnny Winter, Bob Margolin, Jerry Portnoy, Paul Oscher and the Fabulous Thunderbirds being amongst them.

Albert King loved and recorded extensively with the MGs (mixed racially), and (later) Stevie Ray Vaughan.

Albert Collins had Debbie Davies in his band for years.

BB King loved and touted several white guitarists, amongst them Eric Clapton and Peter Green (of whom he said, “He’s the only one of these kids that can make me sweat.”—I’m paraphrasing, but you get the gist).

Amongst Freddie King’s last few recordings, Leon Russell and the Asylum Street Choir (racially mixed, but predominantly a bunch of Okies) were prominent.

Every time I saw Gatemouth Brown, his band was mixed.

Even locally (here in DFW), Sam Myers came to love Anson Funderburg and the Rockets and toured extensively with them until his death.

Robert Ealey drew from all the kids who revered him, like Sumner Bruton, Mike Buck, Mike Morgan, Dave Milsap, Memo Gonzalez and even a skinny little over-enthusiastic kid, (ME…he invited me to join him and play harp).

UP Wilson did likewise, and even spent a large portion of the latter part of his life in France, saying the talent pool for blues was excellent there (amongst other reasons).

If the old masters and local heroes were able to look past race, we should too.

Let’s drop this part of the discussion, please.
Kind of minimizing, as blues traditions are intermeshed with US race relations. There has to be some common launching point, and should include talk about generational trauma. The voice, the song, the blues, that’s universal and what transcends the false concept of race to begin with. Yet, to have an adult discussion of anything of importance, we should probably refrain from calling all discussion of facts stupid. Talking about this part of the blues is not elitism, it is not racism, even though racism is what contributed to it’s development and evolution.

This is why I said it doesn’t matter who you are or what you were. We know that Stevie embraced and honored the roots, and he laid out his own story. I know the bada$$ that he is because of it, and it has nothing to do with what he was born as, even though that’s his way of telling us where he’s coming from. Anybody who is dedicated to this art should be aware of how this tradition started. So “white boys” can stop being so defensive about it, its not about that. It’s been shown by the posted examples that blues traditions are transcendent and legitimate, which is what music is about anyways.

For me, what makes blues boring and dead in the water is the way it’s been appropriated. That’s not a crime necessarily, but it is a dilution. “Blues Hammerisms” are the little nutshell that encapsulates what makes blues lame af. I believe that ‘real’ blues will always be around, but it’s not going to make it by shying away from from real talk about real life, which includes race relations.
 

bgmacaw

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gatekeeper.gif
 

VonBonfire

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Kind of minimizing, as blues traditions are intermeshed with US race relations. There has to be some common launching point, and should include talk about generational trauma. The voice, the song, the blues, that’s universal and what transcends the false concept of race to begin with. Yet, to have an adult discussion of anything of importance, we should probably refrain from calling all discussion of facts stupid. Talking about this part of the blues is not elitism, it is not racism, even though racism is what contributed to it’s development and evolution.
No.
 

Spox

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Wow, I like that
Could even imagine paying actual money for a copy
Thinking about that for a moment, I have not directly paid actual $$ for music in almost a decade
I have some stuff in my vinyl and cd collection which I think would rock your boat bigtime. Re paying for music, I've cooled off in the last couple of years for obvious reasons, the shop I used being closed. Now that they are open I go in and peruse their used section and that's where the Tunisian album came from a few years ago, it's from about 1972 and I think someone had done an Alan Lomax type recording. The shop has an excellent selection of global folk music and blues and jazz. Re blues, the vinyl releases on (and my mind has gone blank re label name and I can't find any of them in the racks directly next to me, I'll hopefully get back to you on that) have been excellent. Edit, I went into the vinyl racks and found one of the labels people should check out if they like blues, MRI Records. I'll see if I can find others to check if they're on the same label or other labels, the one I found is The Rain Don't Fall On Me, Country Blues 1927-1952. Every single album I have bought from this label has been excellent, particularly the compilations.

A couple of years ago my then ipod was playing a cdr I'd recorded from FM radio at the turn of the millenium and there was a fantastic song so when I got home I searched for it, found the album it was from, the only copy I could find for sale was in Australia so I bought it along with another few of the cds the guy had for sale and had it posted here. The album is called Tulear Never Sleeps, Tsapiky Guitars From Southwest Madagascar, here's a song from it.

 
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billy logan

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Maybe what's needed is some full-chested cussing - in a song about venereal disease -


btw I looked up the bassist's Wiki. Wow. (as in, he was with Erroll Garner for 18 years)
Al_Hall_(musician)

ETA- I listened to that multiple-bassoon group's Stairway to Heaven (which was 2nd on the video after a different, more strictly-pentatonic Led Zep song) I thought the strictly-pentatonic bassoon-interpreted song WAS their version of "Old Town Road" L'il Nas X, right? Kind of a big seller, iirc.

Big topics in this thread, idk, good luck. Even looking up Ivory Joe Hunter from the Seldom-Seen Photos thread, an article quoted his daughter saying, "[Dad's] music was the old folks music" and she said that referring to the 50's or early '60's.

The tempo (slow) and the amount of air between notes (a lot) won't grab the young set. But Mr. Garner goes from the I to the IV very satisfyingly. Skip up to 3:00 to get your bearings, then it happens around 3:20, all ye of short attention spans! :) Yes, it's Al Hall on bass. Spice up your 3-chord blues thusly!
 
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Not so fast

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I have some stuff in my vinyl and cd collection which I think would rock your boat bigtime. Re paying for music, I've cooled off in the last couple of years for obvious reasons, the shop I used being closed. Now that they are open I go in and peruse their used section and that's where the Tunisian album came from a few years ago, it's from about 1972 and I think someone had done an Alan Lomax type recording. The shop has an excellent selection of global folk music and blues and jazz. Re blues, the vinyl releases on (and my mind has gone blank re label name and I can't find any of them in the racks directly next to me, I'll hopefully get back to you on that) have been excellent. Edit, I went into the vinyl racks and found one of the labels people should check out if they like blues, MRI Records. I'll see if I can find others to check if they're on the same label or other labels, the one I found is The Rain Don't Fall On Me, Country Blues 1927-1952. Every single album I have bought from this label has been excellent, particularly the compilations.

A couple of years ago my then ipod was playing a cdr I'd recorded from FM radio at the turn of the millenium and there was a fantastic song so when I got home I searched for it, found the album it was from, the only copy I could find for sale was in Australia so I bought it along with another few of the cds the guy had for sale and had it posted here. The album is called Tulear Never Sleeps, Tsapiky Guitars From Southwest Madagascar, here's a song from it.


Thanks for that. Mesmerizing.

I immediately thought of Malcolm McLaren's early '80s music videos from his visit to Africa. I guess he figured that he'd made all the money he was going to out of exploiting the natives of London (Sex Pistols, Bow Wow Wow, Adam Ant).



 

Robert Alger

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I'm glad I grew up listening to the radio. I could listen to Doc Watson or Mississippi John Hurt play John Henry all day and never know who was what or who wasn't.
 

burntfrijoles

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Just checking in. Have we decided what the Blues need or what can save the Blues?
Can it attract a new or greater audience? Is it just niche music? It's influence may never die but I still don't see a path to grow it's audience.
 

JIMMY JAZZMAN

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As far as the "blues" is concerned, Robert Cray is not the answer. He's put out some okay
stuff but nothing remotely close to SRV. Blues needs someone to carry the torch. SRV, Rory
Gallagher, John Mayall, Michael Bloomfield. Great stuff. Maybe John Mayer would do a heay "blues"
CD.
 

msalama

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stuff but nothing remotely close to SRV
IMO very, very few people are in the same league with SRV. But then, his stuff represented only one facet of the blues, and you could also argue that there're many other artists who actually represent true blues better than him. Well I won't, myself, but still... :D
 
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ronzhd

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Now, while I'm not a fan of overly long posts, that was quite nice and very well written. !00% agree with you. In fact, you might try your hand at the screen play, it might work out for you.
 




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