Jimmie Vaughan’s 2013 began with a heart attack. After that, the Strat tamer spent months touring. Now, the landmark local notches a half-century performing, taking up on the Continental Club stage every Tuesday night except Christmas Eve and finishing off with New Year’s Eve fireworks.
“Well, we had to call it something,” explains the local blues legend. “And it has been 50 years that I’ve been playing. I didn’t particularly like saying 50 years, because it makes me feel old. You can’t really understand that until you get there.”
The South Congress speakeasy was a logical choice for Vaughan even though it’s relatively small. Originally from Dallas, he’s lived in Austin since 1970, and he’s only grown in stature since then, moving far beyond being Stevie Ray’s older brother and a long stint in the Fabulous Thunderbirds, to sharing much larger stages with Eric Clapton, B.B. King, and Billy Gibbons.
“[The Continental’s] just a fun place to play and all my friends are over there,” he says. “This past week there were even people from Virginia and England that showed up.”
The blues has absorbed myriad critical blows over the decades, but Vaughan scoffs at rumors of the genre’s demise, citing young locals like Gary Clark Jr., Black Joe Lewis, and the Peterson Brothers as those keeping it alive.
“That’s exactly what they’ve said about it all along. They were saying that when I first got interested in it and first starting listening to it on the radio. They were saying only black people can play the blues. Anyone who was white that played the blues were called imitators. That was in the Sixties.
“So basically, I don’t care what people say.”– Jim Caligiuri