Jimmie Vaughan: 50 Years Performing
Blues master crowds the Continental through the end of 2013
By Jim Caligiuri, 4:30PM, Mon. Nov. 25, 2013
Eternal Austin guitar hero Jimmie Vaughan celebrates 50 years making music on Tuesdays at the Continental Club, hosting a residency that runs through New Year’s Eve. He usually brings his stinging blues to larger stages, so it’s a great opportunity to catch the older brother and original influence of Stevie Ray Vaughan up close and personal.
Austin Chronicle: How are you feeling? I know you had a heart attack at the beginning of the year. Are you fully recovered from that?
Jimmie Vaughan: As far as I can tell. I’m just great.
AC: You did a lot of touring this year. I guess you’re back to normal.
JV: Oh yeah. I feel fine.
AC: The shows at the Continental Club are marking 50 years in show business.
JV: Well, we had to call it something. And it has been 50 years that I’ve been playing. I didn’t particularly like saying that, because it makes me feel old. You can’t really understand that until you get there.
AC: So you started when you were 13. What was it like back then?
JV: I was 12, actually. My parents played dominoes on the weekends. They played a game called 42, which is kind of old now. They’d have a lot of people over and it would switch around to other people’s houses. One of them was a guy whose last name was Stevenson. He was in a rock & roll band. His son, who was away in the Navy, played drums and also had a guitar and sang. So while the parents would be playing dominoes, I’d go and play around with his drums and guitar. I started out trying to play drums. Then I broke my collarbone playing football and it kept me out of school for a few months. My father bought me a guitar – it had three strings on it – to keep me out of trouble. As soon as I started playing that guitar I never stopped.
AC: I know you’ve been friends with the people at the Continental Club for a long time. It such a small place for you to play, which makes the whole series of shows pretty special.
JV: It’s just a fun place to play and all my friends are over there. This past week I guess people saw it was happening on the Internet and there were people from Virginia and England that showed up.
AC: How do you feel about blues music these days? Is it still alive? There are people who say its gotten very repetitious and there aren’t many interesting new artists playing it these days.
JV: I think 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. If you don’t think the blues is still going, check out a little guy named Jack Montesinos, who’s 11 and playing around town.
AC: Have you seen the Peterson Brothers?
JV: There’s another one. Jack can play better at his age than I could. Look at Gary Clark. Eventually they’ll all bring their own style to it. If you look back at Texas music, look at western swing or jazz or blues, it’s all going on regardless of what people say. It comes out of the ground here and people all around the country continue to enjoy it.
AC: When I first heard the Peterson Brothers, they blew my mind. I mean, here were 14-year-old kids playing Freddie King songs. How did that happen?
JV: It’s just a matter of exploring the history. Maybe a family member – a father or an uncle – pointed them in a direction. You find one guy, you get a framework. Everybody learns from other people, so then you add your own personality. I used to spend all my time trying to play like B.B. King or Freddie King or Eric Clapton or Jimi Hendrix or Buddy Guy.
The first record I ever bought was by a Dallas band called the Nightcaps, “Wine Wine Wine.” It was total blues; you couldn’t call it anything else. My uncles on both side played in western swing bands in Dallas.
You have to realize that Webb Pierce and Muddy Waters are not that far apart. I know that a lot of people will think I’m crazy, but I’m really not. It’s the same thing. Look at Black Joe Lewis. He may be more soul; he obviously looked at what came before. That’s the exciting part to me. It’s like learning how to read and discovering great books. Learning about the blues or soul or rock & roll, it’s all the same thing really.
AC: Great talking to you. I really appreciate your time.
JV: I just want to say that the more I play, the more I want to play. I play every day, any excuse to play. I love the Continental Club and here I am.
AC: So you’re not going to retire any time soon.
JV: No, not because I want to.