Van Wilks

Record review

Texas Platters

Van Wilks

Running From Ghosts (Dixiefrog)

Embarrassment of riches. That's Austin's story when it comes to gifted blues-rock guitarists, and Van Wilks is an easy exemplar. The South Austinite has chops to spare, strumming and soloing around the rock-blues-pop nexus with ease since the Seventies, opening for marquee acts like ZZ Top. In Europe, where this guitar teacher tours successfully every year, these skills are a hot commodity. Yet in Central Texas, such playing is nearly ordinary. Wilks' sixth full-length is composed of originals, a half-duration cover of Traffic's "The Low Spark of High Heeled Boys," and two new renderings from Bombay Tears, his 1980 Mercury debut. Wilks' working of "Low Spark" demonstrates proficiency but stalls in the creativity department, and while Wilks can sing, à la Eric Johnson, people tune in for guitaring here, making instrumentals "New Day Dawning" and "Happy Hour at the Asylum" more palatable than the 10 remaining vocal tracks. International fans will no doubt eat up Running From Ghosts, but it'll take more to prick Longhorn ears.


A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for almost 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  

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

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

New recipes and food news delivered Mondays

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)

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