By Ray Chelstowski
Jimmie Vaughan passed through the area this weekend in support of his new release, Baby, Please ComeHome. A long-time fan of his solo work and of course his long run with The Fabulous Thunderbirds, I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect from his set. That early work with the T-Birds was real down and dirty Texas boogie. His solo work took on a funkier vibe with a sound that was more New Orleans than Fort Worth. Those solo records were smoky and cool and really set him apart from his prior band. More importantly they really established Jimmie as a solo artist independent of his famous brother Stevie Ray. His sound, his music, and his general aura were entirely different from Stevie’s but equally cool.
Jimmie took the stage promptly at 8pm without an opening act. He was joined by a rather large outfit that included two horns (a bari sax and t-bone), a Hammond B3, an upright bass, drums and a sideman on a hollow body electric. Jimmie was in fine form, and at the tender age of 68 was still plucking his strings so strongly that he was forced regularly to retune his signature Strat. His notes were fat, full, loud, and bawdry and as mesmerizing as his performance was, it was watching the sidemen on stage shine that really took the evening to greater heights. The horn section was big and brassy. That one two punch of a bari sax and a fat trombone added so much beef and bottom to the sound that the room almost shook. Through old classics like “The Crawl” and the old Bruce Channel gem “Hey Baby” Jimmie and the boys put on a clinic, and the house really hopped. It was a trip in back in time where you got a brief glimpse of what those hot smoky rooms must have felt like when this music was new and considered dangerous.
Jimmie didn’t leave SRV fans hanging either. He led the band through a sizzling rendition of “Texas Flood” and the back beat strut of “White Boots” from Family Style. In the end though this was a show devoted to some of the songs that helped shape Jimmie Vaughan into the artist he has become. From the reaction of the crowd that night, that’s exactly what they came to hear.
This is a band who owns their stage. From the manner in which they arrived from the wings to how they picked up their instruments or sticks, or even to Jimmie’s silver tipped cowboy boots, sharp Forth Worth tux, and duck bill hair cut this group meant business. There was little room for banter. Instead, Jimmie Vaughan had his head down and his group rolling forward making an almost unbreakable stretch of music run white hot wire to wire.
I learned a life lesson when his brother Stevie passed. When given the chance to see him on that final tour I passed over a small inconvenience, convinced he’d roll through again sometime soon. That’s a mistake I haven’t made again. Instead this was a thrill ride that I was able to share with my son and brother in-law. One we won’t soon forget. So if you reside anywhere alongside this tour’s path (attention Lubbock, Flagstaff, Escondido, Modesto and more) grab someone close and make some history of your own. Acts like this don’t pass through often and you’ll never know when, how and if they will pass by again. A 5-star performance!