The Jimmie Vaughan Trio at the Iridium, March 14, 2020.
The Jimmie Vaughan Trio
The Iridium, New York City
March 14, 2020
By Ray Chelstowski
The Iridium on Broadway was far from capacity on Saturday night. The back half of a two night engagement, the afternoon arrived with an email alert from the club with an offer for ticket holders. Those concerned about the coronavirus would now have the opportunity to trade theirs in for credit toward a future show. I can’t say that we didn’t give the option some serious thought and consideration. But in the end, we knew that it might be the last concert we’d see for some time. Moreover, if our instincts were correct enough folks would bail. A half empty room would offer up a once in a lifetime “private Jimmie Vaughan showing.” We ended up being right on both counts. A room that taps out at 180 may have only had 50 people in attendance – and that might include staff. Better yet, Jimmie Vaughan’s “Trio” performed with a fire and intensity that was blind to the size of the room. It was an all-out blues assault –conducted at a safe distance from the crowd and each other.
Leaning hard on songs from his recent album Baby Please Come Home the band delivered a set that was lifted from a moment in time. This was the music heard in Dallas Go Go clubs and dance halls during the late 50’s. Led by musical director and organist Mike Flanigan the four piece band shared the weight equally. While Jimmie was without question the star of the night he stepped into the shadows of the outer stage when his band mates had a moment to shine, and that they did. Perhaps the most impressive contributions were made by baritone sax player Doug “Mr. Low” James, formerly of Duke Robillard’s band Roomful of Blues. He added a rich bottom to the music that gave a crisp edge to the Hammond B-3 bass parts. When he took the playing up and began to tap the ceiling it was done with a restraint and patience that was as deliberate as Jimmie’s guitar.
Vaughan’s style has really evolved over time. Known for his hard picking, Jimmie puts importance on single notes as opposed to flashy runs up and down his guitar neck. The solos were stirring and provided a compelling balance to his vocals. There his soft spoken style rendered just enough emotion to remind you that this is the blues. But it also allowed for an expression on guitar that brought on the rain, whether the tempo was drenched in blues or spinning about with soul.
Overall, the set was a dance party and the real stand outs were the songs that got the crowd to play along. Whether it was on his version of the old Bruce Channel song “Hey Baby” or the old Guitar Jr. track “The Crawl” the band found a way to enliven the mood and for just a moment let us forget about the darkness looming right outside that club door.
The stand out on this tour remains Jimmie’s take on the Lloyd Price song that’s the title track of his new album. “Baby, Please Come Home” is almost an anthem to this blues legend’s career on the road and life spent apart from loved ones. With his trademark smile and world class chops he made the best of his time away from Texas and for one night made the lights on Broadway shine bright.