There are a ton of famous musicians either from Austin or who relocated to the city and called it home: Gary Clark, Jr., Marcia Ball, Alejandro Escevedo, Robert Earl Keen, Eric Johnson, Willie Nelson, Townes Van Zandt, Ben Kweller, Spoon, to name just a few. But there are probably no more famous guys linked to Austin than the Vaughan brothers, Stevie Ray and Jimmie. Everyone knows the SRV story and we hope he rests in peace, but Jimmie is still on the scene. I was lucky enough to catch him at Antones, the blues club institution in Austin, and it was a terrific show.
Jimmie is SRV’s older brother and is famous in his own right. I saw Jimmie years ago when he was touring with his band, the Fabulous Thunderbirds, and it was a great show, but to see him in an intimate club environment in his adopted hometown was a huge treat. And Jimmie didn’t skimp on the show. You know that I’m getting a little tired of musicians touring without a band, but Jimmie brought along a huge and talented entourage called the Tilt-A-Whirl Band. At one point, he had 11 people up on stage! Very nice and I hope the troubadours are taking note.
It’s funny about the blues: I enjoy listening to recordings at home, but wouldn’t consider myself a huge blues fan. But when they are performed live by skilled musicians, they are just terrific. The upbeat numbers are pure rock ‘n roll, and the slower cuts are heartfelt and can bust even a tough old dude down into a bowl of jelly.
Opening for Jimmie was the Dave Biller Combo. I had never heard of Dave Biller, but he is a jazz/blues guitarist. He played with a trio, and it was quite good. I’m not a huge fan of jazz, but it was so technically proficient that it was hard not to have fun. I have no idea the name of his drummer, but she was fantastic. Here are a couple of pictures and a video:
After DBC left, Jimmie came on. He has a strong blues voice, and brought along horns, a guy on the Hammond organ, three backup singers … and then he pulled an older blues singer on the stage for a song or two. Whoa, I didn’t catch the dude’s name, but he was GREAT. We were already having a good time, but this dude just emoted the blues and had an amazing voice. Here he is – if you can identify him, let me know and I’ll pass his name along.
I have to admit that I don’t know Jimmie’s catalog enough to be able to identify all his tunes, but I did capture some on video. Yep, the GoPro travels easily, and I remembered to bring it. I also was positioned very close to the stage as is my wont, and got some strong pictures.
Antone's is a great club, too. It’s well designed with the bar off to the back on the side, a sizeable stage with good lighting (not just the reds, which are terrible for photos), and thoughtfully placed structural supports that are out of the way and don’t block the view. It also has great acoustics and is clean. And it’s intimate, holding a few hundred at most. I loved it. I’ve been to a number of venues in Austin, and while the Continental is a great club, too, I’m partial to Antone's. The only hang up: no security of note at all, as though Pulse and Bataclan never happened. C’mon, already.
Jimmie Vaughan was a pretty strong way to start the musical part of this trip to Austin. It’s always great to see a hometown hero in his own element. And it was a long two block walk back to my hotel. Oh, but this show wasn’t the highlight of the trip. That honor is the subject of my next Austin post. Y’all ready for that? Good as it’s headed your way like a freight train. I’ll see you soon, ok? Stay cool, as always.
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.