Doyle Bramhall

SXSW Records

Phases and Stages

Doyle Bramhall

Fitchburg Street (Yep Roc) You can't write the history of the Austin blues scene without including singer-songwriter/drummer Doyle Bramhall. Joining a host of fellow Dallas musicians that included Jimmie Vaughan, Denny Freeman, Paul Ray, and a very young Stevie Ray Vaughan, Bramhall and his buddies set up shop Tuesday nights at the legendary Red River dive the One Knite and sowed the seeds of an Austin sound that became internationally renowned a decade later. Bramhall comes full circle with his first new album since 1994's acclaimed Bird Nest on the Ground. The title refers to the street in the tough West Dallas neighborhood where he was raised and first heard the blues, R&B, and soul that have influenced his life's work. As such, this new album is a no-frills, down-and-dirty collection of tunes associated with the likes of musical heroes John Lee Hooker, Otis Redding, Howlin' Wolf, and O.V. Wright. At the heart of the music is Bramhall's blue-eyed, soulful vocals on whose ragged-but-right integrity the entire album hinges. He sounds most convincing on a rollicking rendition of the set's only original, "Life by the Drop." Also effective is fellow drummer/singer Buddy Miles' "Changes," a tune Bramhall performed in his pre-Austin days with the Chessmen and which here features son Doyle II on searing, psychedelicized guitar. And you've just got to love the way he gives a real kick in the ass to Jimmy Reed's usually easy-loping "Baby What You Want Me to Do." This album is comfort food for Austin blues fans; nothing fancy, just tasty and familiar fare that'll stick to your ribs. (Continental Club, Thursday, March 13, 11pm)

***

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