Steve James

Texas Platters

Phases and Stages

Steve James

Fast Texas (Burnside) The latest by Austin blues man Steve James would put a Cheshire Cat grin on the face of Robert Crumb since the eccentric cartoonist loves visceral acoustic blues from between the World Wars. James picked up the guitar at age 12, learning the idiom from masters like Bo Diddley, Sam McGee, and Furry Lewis, and has been preaching the blues gospel ever since. Fast Texas is totally acoustic and features James on vocals, 12-string and resonator guitars, mandolin, and banjo. The selections are a mixture of James' originals and gems from the vault, such as Jimmie Rogers' delightful instrumental ditty "Waiting for a Train." James looks to Navasota's Mance Lipscomb for the arrangement of the traditional "Jack o' Diamonds" and channels the meaty arpeggios of Leadbelly's Stella 12-string on the James-penned "Sukey." James' mandolin playing on "Texas Tommy" is simply divine, but the key of the tune stretches his vocal range past comfortable, making the song sound more forced than urgent. While some of the cuts are new, overall the music and the delivery style James presents here are not, dating to the mid-part of last century. Yet James has chops to burn, enough to effectively tour Europe, South America, Australia, and Hong Kong. And as the sounds of the O Brother, and now Fast Texas, prove, historical music such as this can still be successfully mined.

**.5

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for over 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

READ MORE
More Music Reviews
Texas Platters
Guy Forsyth & Jeska Bailey
Conspirators (Record Review)

Reid Jowers, Sept. 27, 2019

Texas Platters
The Texas Horns
Get Here Quick (Record Review)

Jay Trachtenberg, Sept. 20, 2019

More by David Lynch
Rock & Roll Summer Reading
How Can I Keep From Singing?: The Ballad of Pete Seeger

May 30, 2008

Texas Platters
That Damned Band
999 Surreal Eyes (Record Review)

Feb. 15, 2008

MORE IN THE ARCHIVES
NEWSLETTERS
One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

Eric Goodman's Austin FC column, other soccer news

Behind the scenes at The Austin Chronicle

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle