DEGREES OF BLUES
Featured artist: JIMMIE
Jimmie Vaughan's sparse, quirky guitar licks sharply
accentuate his smooth, seasoned voice. It's hard to believe he
only stepped in front of the mic recently, after having played
guitar professionally for nearly 30 years.
"Secretly, I always wanted to sing, and I just
never did, 'cause I didn't like the way my voice sounded. I'd
been listening to Muddy Waters and Bobby "Blue" Bland and all
these great blues singers, and I just couldn't sing like that.
So I decided, "I'm not going to sing, I'm just going to play."
It's lucky for us that he came to his senses. Since
his solo debut on Strange Pleasure in 1994, he has shown himself
to be quite the singer, bringing a unique sense of phrasing to
his vocals. With Do You Get The Blues?, he now sounds extremely
at ease in the studio, masterfully crafting recordings from his
encyclopedic knowledge of Blues, Jazz and R&B. This is by
far the best work to date from a musician who already counts among
his fans the likes of Eric Clapton, Buddy Guy, B.B. King, Billy
F. Gibbons, and Keith Richards. Never one to rest on his laurels,
Jimmie Vaughan is one of those rare artists who just continues
to get better.
And yet despite his obvious talent, it's his humility
that is his greatest asset:
"I try to speak with my guitar in sentences.
The people that I enjoy and the music that I enjoy are not about
just a bunch of licks strung together. If you just play a bunch
of guitar licks that aren't connected, it's like throwing a
lot of words into a bowl. It doesn't make any sense. It's just
words. When I listen to Gene Ammons, the great saxophone player,
I get the feeling he's telling you a story. That's how I'd like
to play guitar someday, when I grow up. That's the goal. That's
what I enjoy. That's what makes me get chill bumps--when you
listen to music where the phrasing comes out and it speaks.
That's the conclusion I've come to after 37 years of playing."
"When I first started playing, I thought that
I wanted to play really fast. So I learned how to play fast.
I can still play pretty fast. I thought that was an important
thing, and it was at the time. Then, I realized that it was
like practicing in public."
In a world of one-hit wonders and soon to be has-beens,
we can take comfort in knowing that there are still musicians
out there like Jimmie Vaughan, who carry the torch of their rich
musical heritage, and yet aren't afraid to blaze new trails.
For more of Jimmie Vaughan, visit the Official
Jimmie Vaughan Website.
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With a curiosity that begins in the delta and extends to the
stratosphere, Emanuel Pordes is a blues lover for whom the addiction
to 12 bar has no downside. Where there's good blues to be had,
whether it be old, lost, neglected, co-opted, or buried under
the charts, that is where he likes to be. He produced Six Degrees
of Blues at WGRE 91.5.