Monday, September 13, 2010
Jimmie Vaughan rocks the Coach House
Jimmie Vaughan photographed by Bob Steshetz at the Coach House on Sept. 9, 2010
My review was originally published in the Orange County Register's Soundcheck blog on Friday, Sept. 10, 2010.
Blues music has come back in a big way in 2010, with artists not typically associated with the traditional scene — John Mellencamp, Tom Petty, Steve Miller, even Cyndi Lauper — all having issued well-received blues-centered discs this year.
But clearly not to be forgotten in this parade of forays is Jimmie Vaughan Plays Blues, Ballads and Favorites, a Shout! Factory release that marks the guitarist’s first new studio album in nine years. And at the Coach House on Thursday (Sept. 9, 2010), Vaughan, now 59, spotlighted many songs off the strong collection of favorite covers from the far-flung likes of Little Richard, Willie Nelson and Jimmy Reed. He also was backed by a robust band (including a two-man sax section) that added heft and sonic elegance throughout his 21-cut set.
Vaughan’s set was essentially broken into two parts. The first featured the guitarist leading the charge, trading tasty Texas licks from his Fender with blasts from tenor sax pro Greg Picollo and other members of his group. During the second half, however, Stevie Ray’s older brother, who had provided vocals up to that point, brought singer Louann Barton (long a musical companion of the Vaughans) on stage to handle most of the lead work, while also assisting in duets (particularly “Sugar Coated Love”) to broaden the approach of this musical troupe.
Many tracks from Blues, Ballads & Favorites were featured, with the swing of “The Pleasure’s All Mine” and the Bill Haley-styled “How Can You Be So Mean” highlights of the first part of the show, while “Wheel of Fortune,” showcasing Barton’s compelling vocals, was clearly a standout later in the night.
Vaughan mentioned it was good to be back at the San Juan Capistrano venue, noting he hadn’t performed at the Coach House since 2001. Hopefully, he won’t wait another nine years before returning to temporarily transform the venerable club into a blues roadhouse. The Mike Eldred Trio turned in the most raucous set of the night. Featuring Eldred on guitar and vocals, plus bassist John Bazz and drummer Jerry Angel (the Blasters’ rhythm section), the group delivered some high-octane ’50s rock ’n’ roll over the course of 30 minutes, with tracks like “Louise” and “I’m Ready” illustrating the threesome’s retro attack.
As for second opener Shawn Jones, well, every time I have caught him live I’ve been more impressed. As outstanding as he was when I first saw him perform at the Doheny Blues Festival in May 2008, the talented singer-songwriter-guitarist just keeps getting better.
On Thursday night, he impressed mightily with accessible and infectious blues-rock, anchored by his dazzling guitar playing, formidable voice and original songwriting — all of which quickly won over many who were introduced to his craft during his forceful 40-minute performance. Songs such as the confessional “Glorybound” and the rocker “I Can’t Help Myself” proved how deftly Jones can blend Delta blues, gospel, folk and R&B into a winning style.
Yet, despite Jones’ clearly apparent all-around skills, the bandleader remains unsigned. The good news is that he performs in Orange County frequently, and his self-released albums deliver the same power he demonstrated here at the Coach House.
Kicking off this long night of excellent blues and Americana music was another singer-songwriter-guitarist, Jonathan Blake, who played a half-hour of acoustic blues. Well, mostly blues — the talented Blake also blended jazz and flamenco into his original songs.