Everyone knows Stevie Ray Vaughan, the blues impresario who died at a young age in a helicopter crash. But Stevie has a brother, named Jimmie, who is himself quite an accomplished blues guitarist. Jimmie brought his act to the Ardmore Music Hall recently, and BRP was there to catch it.
I saw Jimmie and his Tilt A Whirl Band about 18 months ago at Antone’s in Austin. It was a late spring evening, warm, and we were with some old and dear friends. Antone’s is a great venue, and we had a choice spot up front. That night, there were about 10 or 12 people on stage playing as the Tilts, including a few remarkable backup singers. It was a flip-flops, shorts and t-shirt evening after a long winter. BRP heaven.
Go forward 18 months, and Jimmie comes to AMH. He brought along the horns, the B3 and the same tunes, but AMH did the unthinkable and filled in the standing room section up front with seats. Jeez! No one up and moving, just a bunch of cotton tops sitting there, some of whom looked like they might fall asleep. And worse, the standing room people had to be crammed into the crappy bar area, making for an evening of jostling and movement.
Oh, and for whatever reason, this show attracted the tallest crowd I can remember. It was like “Dutch Night” at AMH or something. The upshot is that the magical night in Austin was not replicated in Ardmore.
That’s not to say that the show wasn’t good. It was a solid blues outing put on by a group of consummate professionals who are excellent at their craft. Having the B3 and the horns added punch and drive to the blues, and Jimmie can rip on the guitar. However, after being bumped, jostled and craning my neck for half the show, I got kind of tired of it. Each song began to sound like the last one. If that were a blues lyric, I would now repeat it: each song began to sound like the last one. That’s always a bad sign, and I’ve noticed it with some performers (calling the Rev. Horton Heat!).
I will say that the opener was a guy named Scott Sharrard who had played a lot with Gregg Allman in the last years of Gregg’s life, and he was worthy. I don’t go much for the solo acoustic guitar guy, but this dude didn’t just strum like he was playing the folk mass on Sunday at St. Agnes. He was playing leads, tricky chord changes, and his song structure and lyrical arrangements were good. It was a surprisingly good start to the night.
Jimmie did nothing wrong. In fact, the crowd was digging what he was offering. But there were weird moments, like when some dope yelled “play some blues” after he had just played 3 blues numbers to start the show. Jimmie looked a little surprised and simply said back “what the f+ck do you think I’m doing up here?” That made people laugh, but the banter was unusual.
I think the best moments were when Jimmie would start with a slower number that would begin to build, and then he would turn it over to the dude on the B3 or the horns, and they would power it up. JV would then come back in with an aggressive lead and the song would then muscle through to the end. But not all of the numbers did that, and the slower blues numbers simply wore me down. I just wasn’t feeling it that night.
I’ll also say that the AMH crowds that I’ve been part of lately have been remarkably, well, rude. Hey, man, people are performing. I honestly don’t care about whatever it is you’re talking about, but could you keep it down? I paid good money to see this show, and you need to either STFU or take your mindless banter about your high school years outside onto Lancaster Avenue. I don’t mind someone ordering a beer, or people dancing and whooping, but enough with the jabbering.
So the night was a success of sorts, but not the badass electric blues outing that makes my soul stir. I was happy to be a part of it, glad that I went, but also mindful that not every performance is going to kick butt. A solid show, but one where I got home early enough to be happy that I could get a decent night’s sleep before The Man gouged out my eyes at work the next day.
Rockers, I have a few more shows to get you all jumped up. I’ve been on a bit of a tear lately, and I’ve seen some really remarkable performances. If you come back soon, you’ll get those remarks BRP-style, and hopefully, you’ll go away happy (or at least pursuing happiness). I’ll tell you what: you come back soon, and I’ll make sure that there is something new and cool to read. Deal? Nice, see you in a few.
In the meantime, enjoy sweet summer. The 2019 version of Julius Caesar’s month is in the record books, and we’re on to Caesar Augustus’s 31 days. Before you know it, the kids will be back in school and the Main Line will be jumping again. So Frankie say RELAX and enjoy, nay even savor, these last days of sweet summer.
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My name is Bill, and I live in the greater Philadelphia area. I love music, and I have a lot of opinions. This site is primarily focused on music, but sometimes I get off track. I hope you enjoy.