Friday, August 21, 2009

Pride & Joy: Celebrating Stevie Ray, Dallas's greatest guitarist

Aug. 21, 2009
Posted by Noah

Growing up in Dallas, loving live music and great musicians as much as I do, there was no way to get around Stevie Ray Vaughan. Who would want to? He was, and ever will be, the greatest modern Texas bluesman to pick up a guitar, any guitar, period. When he died, so unfairly, in 1990, at the age of 36, there can be no doubt that one of the 10 greatest guitarists to ever live has left our midst. In fact, Rolling Stone listed him as #7...

I mention this as Stevie Ray had been on my mind lately, not the least of which was remembering a couple shows I had seen when I was a teenager, because I have been listening to Soul II Soul a lot in recent weeks and because, as I sat on the couch last night unable to sleep due to a very annoying sinus infection, I came across a Stevie Ray tribute being shown on the local PBS affiliate as part of its current fund drive - be sure and pledge - and needless to say, the channel did not change for two hours.

Not only was the music great - no surprise there - but watching the varied performances from Stevie Ray throughout the 1980s, from hotshot kid to fully mature, fully in-control blues genius, was riveting. He lived with every night, swooned with sweeping and bending notes and sang with the weight of a 100-year-old man. Watching him play some classic shows and classic tunes brought him fully back to life, ecstatically so, just as it drove home what a potent force we lost almost two decades ago. I know I had learned it long before, but watching Stevie do his thing, so effortlessly, with such jaw-dropping skill,the intermittent unfairness of existence was driven home like a nail in my skull.

All this, naturally, was perfect fodder for me to go to the Heritage archives to see what kind of Stevie Ray Vaughan things had crossed the block in our auctions, and I wasn't disappointed. There aren't any guitars, or one of his signature hats, but there are great variety of autographs, posters, pictures and even some LPs, which, if you're born post 1980, are big, flat round vinyl things that music is actually embedded into, and not digitally!

The top SRV lot actually comes from last June's Music and Entertainment auction and is a beautiful poster from his last Austin, TX gig, just a few months before his death - he was playing with the one and only Buddy Guy(!), if you can imagine the sheer awesomeness of that combination. You can see by the picture here that it is indeed a beautiful piece, and relatively inexpensive at just more than $1,550. It's the sort of poster that will only gain in value and beauty over the years, especially as history puts Stevie Ray, and his greatness, in perspective.

It may seem incongruous, but if you're ever feeling bad, and want to feel better, then put on a little Stevie Ray Vaughan - I suggest "Cold Shot" or "Texas Flood" - and I guarantee you'll feel better in a few minutes, depending on the version you are listening to.

Have a good weekend, and if you're in Dallas, and can catch a replay of the SRV tribute, clear your schedule, and your mind, for the next couple of hours. You ain't going nowhere.

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