Archives

Tribute To Stevie Ray Vaughan – 25 Classic Performances

StevieRayVaughanDoubleTroublePublicityShotThe world lost Stevie Ray Vaughan 25 years ago today. We lost a man, a musician, a legend, and a shining light in world full of darkness. Stevie overcame his personal demons and set about helping others do the same, both directly and indirectly. He was open about his experience and inspired people to change through not just his music, but his words and his actions. To commemorate the 25th anniversary of his horrific death, we shall celebrate his life. We put together a Spotify playlist of 25 Classic Performances. Granted, we were limited to the available music on Spotify which luckily includes most of his recorded output for CBS/Sony. Strangely enough, the SRV box set is missing and if possible I would have included some incredible live performances on there including “Rude Mood” and “Testify” from MTV Unplugged. Stevie Ray Vaughan played those two songs on 12-string acoustic guitar and when I saw it live on TV I was stunned and still am. Simply amazing. Anyway, here’s what we have lined up for you. Some it is off the beaten path but I hope it gives you a full picture of the man and his life in music. My notes are in italics.

1. Scuttle Buttin’ – Live At Montreux 1985
2. Say What! – Live At Montreux 1985
This is the wicked 1-2 punch Stevie used to open many shows. This was a great way to declare he was back to take no prisoners after a lukewarm reception at Montreux 3 years earlier.
3. Couldn’t Stand The Weather – Couldn’t Stand The Weather
All time favorite Stevie Ray Vaughan tune. I can see his wrist flying in my mind’s eye as I listen to that rhythm guitar part. Damn!
4. Little Wing/Third Stone From The Sun – Archives
SRV transforms this Hendrix beauty into an instrumental excursion beyond the Sun.
5. Texas Flood – Live At The El Mocambo
Incredible performance of the song that started it all for SRV & Double Trouble. Listen close and see if you can tell where he switched to playing behind his back.
6. Change It – Soul To Soul
The first few bars of this one shiver my spine every time!
7. Satisfy Susie – Lonnie Mack – Strike Like Lightning
Stevie as sideman and contributor on this tune that features a main riff that Stevie borrowed from time to time. Here he trades solos with Lonnie while simultaneously lifting Lonnie’s career out of obscurity. Stevie was kind to his predecessors.
8. Telephone Song – The Vaughan Brothers – Family Style
Funky track from the only album with big brother Jimmie Lee. This one will get you movin’! Stevie displays his incredible rhythm chops on this one too.
9. Blues At Sunrise – Albert King & Stevie Ray Vaughan – In Session
Albert talks way too much on this whole album but in between is some of the most incredible string bending you’ll ever hear from either of these two giants of the blues.
10. Travis Walk – In Step
This killer instrumental is not as blustery as “Rude Mood” or “Testify” but it’s bouncy and happy and will make you smile until your face freezes that way. Be careful!
11. Collins Shuffle – Live At Montreux 1982
Another Albert influenced SRV quite a bit too. Albert Collins. This is a terrific tribute to the Master of the Telecaster.
12. The Sky Is Crying – Essential
When I first heard SRV’s studio version of this I wasn’t impressed and I didn’t like that there was no slide guitar. This live version still has no slide guitar but he pulls out all the stops. It completely changed my mind about his choice to cover this song.
13. Give Me Back My Wig – Archives
I just love that Stevie liked Hound Dog Taylor and chose to cover one of his songs. I love Hound Dog too. This one DOES have slide guitar from Stevie Ray Vaughan.
14. Look At Little Sister – Soul To Soul
A blistering Texas Shuffle that he played so well. I love the trilling on the low strings and Double Trouble’s confident Strut.
15. Boot Hill (1984 Version) – Couldn’t Stand The Weather (Deluxe Edition)
An earlier version of the song found on The Sky Is Crying posthumous album. Now you can play a game of “Spot The Differences”! Exciting isn’t it?
16. Tin Pan Alley (aka Roughest Place In Town) – Live At The Spectrum, Montreal, August 17, 1984, Late Show
I had this bootleg for years before they added it to Couldn’t Stand The Weather. This is a blistering version of this great tune from Texas Flood.
17. Pride And Joy – Texas Flood
It’s just a classic and couldn’t be excluded.
18. Mary Had A Little Lamb – Live At Montreux 1985
If possible I would have included a post-rehab version of this song but there wasn’t one. This is an excellent substitute. Messed up or not, SRV was firing on all cylinders during his return to Montreux.
19. The Things That I Used To Do – Live At Carnegie Hall
Stevie got to play Carnegie Hall and he brought along his friends and big brother. He shared his success with the people he loved. We should all try that.
20. Crossfire – In Step
A Double Trouble composition and it’s a corker! Follow that bass! Stevie lights this one up like a Christmas tree.
21. Tick Tock – The Vaughan Brothers – Family Style
I hardly ever listen to this song but it features a great vocal performance by Stevie Ray Vaughan that cannot be denied. It’s also a direct reminder of our limited time here and that we need to make the most of it.
22. Lookin’ Out The Window – Soul To Soul
A little under three minutes of pure fun from Stevie and the boys.
23. Tightrope – In Step
Another example of Stevie’s talent in the rhythm guitar department. He was more than just incendiary solos and Texas shuffles. He was a tremendously well-rounded musician and showed it often.
24. Voodoo Child (Slight Return) – Live At The Spectrum, Montreal, August 17, 1984 Late Show
No one did Hendrix like Stevie Ray Vaughan and no one ever has. Stevie Ray Vaughan seemed to inherently understand Jimi’s playing and could expand on it or deconstruct it at will.
25. Riviera Paradise – In Step
We close with this beautiful piece of music from a beautiful person. You are missed Stevie Ray Vaughan, you are missed.

Hump Day Is Tax Day!

It’s Hump Day Biscuiteers but this week it happens to fall on Tax Day. We’re dedicating this week’s edition to tax time blues.

Naturally we have some Hump Day related good humor in two of these songs. The Dixon Brothers speculated what might happen if the government put “Sales Tax On The Women” and Eddie “Cleanhead” Vinson decries paying luxury tax on his dates with ladies. 

Here are a pair of stanzas from “Sales Tax On The Women”

“That’s the way it goes, Uncle Sam knows
He’s just torturin’ me and my pals
We would die with the blues without any shoes
If you put the sales tax on the gals

Well, I don’t mean any harm when I step out at night
Happy times with the ladies I’ve spent
Sales taxes on the kisses just wouldn’t be right
In my pockets I would never have a cent”

Vinson took the approach of comparing women to meat, which were apparently two luxuries he could not do without:

“No I don’t wanna bite, that meat’s too hot for me
No I don’t wanna bite, that meat’s too hot for me
I used to get it for two dollars, way back in nineteen fifty three

Well I went to see my baby, she said daddy just relax
I went to see my baby, she said daddy just relax
But that night when I was leavin’, I paid ten dollars luxury tax”

Something tells me his baby got the ten dollars and not his Uncle Sam.

We haven’t always paid income tax to the Federal Government. In 1913, Congress added federal income taxes to the constitution by passing the 16th Amendment. In 1862, Congress created the first income tax in order to pay for the Civil War. That law was repealed in 1872. In 1894, Congress created a flat income tax which was declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court. It was gone within a year. In the early days of the Blues, sales tax was also a new concept. The Great Depression spurred state governments to add sales taxes to bring in revenue. Two dozen states started collecting sales tax in the 1930s. “Sales Tax” by Mississippi Sheiks explores this new concept. At the beginning of the song, there’s a little dialogue which sets up the song. It may not be that clear on the recording so here it is:

‘Hey Walter, we need some cigarettes
Lets go ahead and get a pack’
‘Okay’

Storekeeper Spoken:
‘Hello boys, what can I do for you?’

‘I’ll have a pack of cigarettes’

‘Alright, here you are’

‘Be 3 cents more, though’

(both spoken)
‘What’s that for?’

‘Sales tax, haven’t you ever heard of sales tax?’

‘I sho’ haven’t’
‘What’s gonna happen next, man?’
‘You know they gotta law here they call ‘sale tax’.

‘Sale tax, what is that for?’

‘that’s 3 cent tax on ev’ra thing that’s sold
They say that’s the government rule’

‘The governments rule?’
‘Well, there’s a-lotsa things sold that the government
Knows anything about.’

‘An I’ll just sing a little song about these sales tax.’

We’d be remiss if we did a Tax Day feature without Robert Cray’s “1040 Blues” and we have a rare live version of Stevie Ray Vaughan & Double Trouble doing The Beatles’ “Taxman.” And when you’re done paying all those taxes, you just might end up like Albert Collins: “Broke.” Let’s all just hope they don’t put sales tax on the women!

JB Lenoir Tax Paying Blues

Mississippi Sheiks Sales Tax

Dixon Brothers Sales Tax On The Women

Eddie “Cleanhead” Vinson Luxury Tax Blues

Robert Cray 1040 Blues

Stevie Ray Vaughan & Double Trouble Taxman

Albert Collins Broke

Hump Day! Risque Tunes For Your Midweek Blues 11/26/14

Welcome back for Hump Day! Since tomorrow is Thanksgiving in the United States and I am from the United States, I’m dedicating Hump Day to food and eating! Eating what? That’s for you to decide. Whatever it is, Memphis Minnie wants you to “Keep On Eating.” I’m guessing she’s talking about her hot buttered biscuits but you never know…

While you’re feasting on Turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, and pumpkin pie, remember your manner! Take T.V. Slim’s advice: “Don’t Reach Across My Plate.” I first heard this song as done by Albert Collins on his Frostbite album. I couldn’t find a clip with Albert’s version but the original certainly gets the point across. If you can find Albert’s version check it out. His keen sense of humor really shines.

Later on after the football games and a tryptophan and carbohydrate induced nap, maybe you’ll be looking for a light snack. Lonnie Mack and Stevie Ray Vaughan know exactly how you feel. They’ve got the “Oreo Cookie Blues.” If you’re looking for something else to snack on, A.C. Reed and Albert Collins can offer you some “Junk Food.” I know most of these tunes aren’t particularly risque but A.C. Reed does keep talking about a footlong…

Happy Thanksgiving everyone. I hope you enjoy a day of food, family, friends, and blues. I’m off to whip up some Blues Biscuits…

 

T.V. Slim Don’t Reach Across My Plate

 

Memphis Minnie Keep On Eating

 

Lonnie Mack & Stevie Ray Vaughan Oreo Cookie Blues

 

A.C. Reed Junk Food

A Tribute To Stevie Ray Vaughan

Stevie RayHendrixGuitarMagMy introduction to Stevie Ray Vaughan began with Jimi Hendrix. “Voodoo Child (Slight Return)” was and is my favorite Hendrix tune of all time. By the time I was aware of Stevie Ray Vaughan, sometime in 1986, I had collected all the versions of “Voodoo Child (Slight Return)” I could find. Being 15, unable to drive and living in Podunk, PA, with a paper route and crappy job at the local grocery store did not give me a lot of access to the music I craved so the number was few and I studied them closely.

I did have access to music magazines and if you remember the 80’s you know there was a surplus of them, from Creem to Hit Parader, Rolling Stone and Spin, to my favorite, Guitar For The Practicing Musician. I was and am an LP liner notes nut and Guitar… went even further in depth, analyzing the music and players, sharing influences, writing habits, and of course, instruments. I had yet to get into playing guitar past the noodler stage but serious interest was right around the corner. Mostly I was reading Guitar… for the interviews. I knew little of blues and as a 15 year old listener I had no idea I was already hearing blues from my favorite bands like Led Zeppelin and Jimi Hendrix Experience. Even Tom Keifer from Cinderella was playing blues for me, and mentioned Johnny Winter in a Guitar… interview – a name I tucked away for much later.

StevieRayLiveAliveLPOne day whilst perusing Guitar… I saw an advertisement for an album called Live Alive by a flamboyant looking dude named Stevie Ray Vaughan. A few things piqued my interest. It was a live album and from Iron Butterfly Live, to The Who Live At Leeds to The Jimi Hendrix Concerts and Frampton Comes Alive, I was a live album guy. This Stevie Ray was dressed in a flashy gold coat that matched the ring on his hat and the color of the guitar. He looked like a cowboy who joined Sha-Na-Na. Awesome. But perhaps most intriguing was the inclusion “Voodoo Child (Slight Return).” Now I was really interested. I filed this away too.

ColumbiaHouseAdA short time later I saw this album in an ad for Columbia House Music Club. Get 12 LPs for a penny! A penny? Damn. I had a penny. I decided this Ray Vaughan guy would be worth the hassle of taping a penny to the card, so I picked 11 LPs since Live Alive was a double and counted as two selections, and mailed in my card – ever hopeful the penny would stay affixed. I still wonder how many they got without that penny. Anyway, I would deal with the purchase requirement later, once Mom realized I signed her up for Columbia House. Six to eight weeks later my box of records arrived and I excitedly opened my cache of music.

I found “Voodoo Child (Slight Return)” and cued it up on the turntable. Holy shit. This is amazing. A little different in the opening but he nailed the feel of it. It sounded like Hendrix to me. People haven’t always covered Hendrix tunes like they do now. For a while they were like sacred texts, plus no one really wanted to be judged in comparison Jimi. Stevie didn’t care. He loved Hendrix and was going to play the music. He inhabited the music. I was stunned. This was incredible. After my “Voodoo Child” induction to Stevie Ray, I went back to the side one of the LP and digested the whole thing through, all the while checking out the photos on the inside cover of this marauding, mariachi pirate kicking his guitar, wearing Native American headdresses, and hamming it up with his band. Who is this guy?

StevieRayLiveAliveInsideCover

At this point I wasn’t completely sold on Stevie Ray. I loved the Hendrix, and the fast tunes like “Pride And Joy” and “Love Struck Baby” but still, I was regretting my exclusion of his other albums in my 12 for a penny deal. Over the next year I eventually picked up “Texas Flood,” and “Couldn’t Stand The Weather” which I enjoyed quite a bit. I was in shock when I heard “Scuttle Buttin’.” That was the fastest thing I’d ever heard and I was, at this point, quite a metal head. Still, SRV was just one more guitar player I liked. Sometime over the course of the year, I turned sixteen, won $50 in a school poetry contest and ventured into the world of bootlegs with the winnings. I’ve been trapped there ever since. I found a cassette bootleg of Stevie Ray Vaughan live at Loreley. It had no track list, no label, and no specific date but it was marked as a soundboard recording. My young ears had heard some really crappy Led Zeppelin audience boots, so soundboard drew me in. I paid eight 1987 dollars for the tape and it transformed me from casual SRV fan to apeshit wingnut in just under 90 minutes. He actually pulled off “Scuttle Buttin’” live and it was better! Plus “Voodoo Child (Slight Return)” and sick versions of “Little Wing” and “Third Stone From The Sun.” Third. Stone. From. The. Sun. What?

StevieRayLiveInJapanWithPipeCloseUpThat was it. All bets were off and my SRV bootleg collecting skyrocketed. I bought them all. Eventually I moved into the realm of VHS bootlegs and came home with Live In Japan January 1985. Out comes Stevie Ray puffing a pipe and casually ripping his way through “Scuttle Buttin’” – it just wasn’t fair. He was too good. My close friend and musical conspirator digested all this along with me and we spent hours watching Stevie Ray’s hands and poring over live recordings. The day “In Step” came out I bought it and took it over to his house so we could hear it together. All the while, I was reading every interview I could find with Stevie Ray Vaughan. I learned a few of his tunes and some of his licks from magazines like Guitar For The Practicing Musician. I even started using GHS guitar strings because of Stevie Ray. Within all this Stevie Ray Vaughan material, I discovered blues. I slowly realized it had been around me all the while.

StevieRayGHSAdStevie Ray Vaughan, even at his most drug-addled and intoxicated, was always talking about his heroes. People like Jimi Hendrix, Albert King, Freddie King, B.B. King, Lonnie Mack, Buddy Guy, Hubert Sumlin, and his big brother Jimmie Vaughan. I checked out all these guys and discovered a world of music that slowly redirected my attention away from metal. Naturally it was at this point I seriously regretted buying a Charvel guitar. The Jackson-cut headstock and fire-engine red finish weren’t very bluesy. Anyway, I tied this information together with what I learned from reading about the blues adored by Led Zeppelin and Jimi Hendrix. I also recalled that name Tom Keifer dropped in an interview a few years earlier: Johnny Winter. Johnny Winter and Stevie’s work with Lonnie Mack led me to Alligator Records. My listening has never been the same.

I will always remember where I was when I heard Stevie Ray Vaughan was dead. Keep in mind this was 1990. I had no internet. No texting; no tweeting. The 24 hour news cycle hadn’t even been born yet. That came later with the first Gulf War. I was in my room, waiting for a friend and listening to Neil Young & Crazy Horse. My friend arrived and asked if I heard. Heard what? Stevie Ray Vaughan is dead.

What? How? Where? I teared up. I felt like I had been sucker punched. I felt like I knew him from listening to him pour out his soul in his music. I read all the interviews. He was clean and sober and helping others get their lives together. He was playing great, touring a hot new record and had just made a record with his brother. How could he be gone? I must admit that when I heard the circumstances of his death my first reaction was why wasn’t it Clapton? Callous I know. Sue me. I took his death hard. Only my grandmother’s death has affected me more. I felt empty and hurt. A huge black hole now existed in my musical universe.

StevieRayOneOfTheLastEventually I started trying to fill that hole and find someone else with that sound. No one else at that time sounded like Stevie Ray Vaughan. I looked. I dug up Tinsley Ellis, Smokin’ Joe Kubek, anybody who played blues with a Strat – I tried them out. I found a lot of great music and my journey deeper into the blues began in earnest. Without Stevie Ray’s death I may have never discovered Ronnie Earl or Roy Buchanan, Jimmy Thackery, Walter Trout, or even more recent guys like Chris Duarte and Mato Nanji. I also discovered I loved most styles of blues and went back to the masters like Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, Robert Johnson, and Son House. My musical universe expanded greatly but the black hole has never been filled. I’ve just learned to accept it. I did not know Stevie Ray Vaughan and never met him in person, but I loved him and I miss him to this day. I miss the music that could have been and the powerful force for good he represented by helping people and always humbly directing others to those who came before him to whom he felt indebted. He was a class act, amazing musician, and a respectful, unpretentious human being. Stevie Ray Vaughan continues to inspire me and his music lifts me up whenever I hear it or play it. Not a day goes by without thinking of something or hearing something Stevie Ray Vaughan related and in many ways that makes me very happy. Fly on little wing, fly on…