An incredible piece of blues—and music—history recently surfaced online. Below, check out a rare video of Stevie Ray Vaughan performing "The Sky Is Crying" at an Austin, Texas, club circa 1980—before Montreux, before "Let's Dance," before his cowboy hats—before anyone in New Jersey or Ohio or Paris had any idea who he was. It's so early, in fact, that he's still called "Stevie Vaughan" at this point.
On October 9, a U.K.-based company called Fretlocks will host a launch party in London for its new product, the Fretlocks single-fret capo. Think about that for a second; a capo for one string. This could, no doubt, create opportunities for new chord shapes and licks that are (at this very moment, anyway) impossible.
George Harrison wasn't exactly a fan of being "on the road." After the Beatles' final tour in 1966, he toured only twice as a solo artist. Twice! There was his '74 tour of the U.S. and his '91 tour of Japan. That's it. Outside of that, Harrison's live performances were limited to special events, including the 1971 Concert for Bangladesh, the 1987 Prince's Trust Rock Gala and his April 6, 1992, benefit concert for the U.K.'s Natural Law Party.
Stevie Ray Vaughan fans got a nice little bonus in 1985, when Alligator Records released Lonnie Mack's masterful Strike Like Lightning album. The album, which actually was co-produced by Vaughan and Mack, features Vaughan on several tracks, playing both electric and acoustic guitar, something that very rarely happened.
Although this story isn't about me—in fact, it has nothing to do with me—I will share one of my own mottos: "If you can't do justice to a Stevie Ray Vaughan song, don't even bother." (This is pretty much why I stopped playing Stevie Ray Vaughan songs a few years ago.) That said, here are five live covers that enter the realm of doing justice to the late, great SRV.
To put it bluntly, even though it appears on a groundbreaking, legendary guitar album—Blues Breakers with Eric Clapton—"What'd I Say" is not a "standout track" by any means. It just sort of sits there, and its lengthy drum solo (played by Hughie Flint) isn't exactly "Moby Dick." Who knows, maybe it was a crowd favorite at the Bluesbreakers' live shows.
Although I "discovered" Roy Buchanan when I was a blues-loving kid in the mid-'80s, the guitarist's first brush with something resembling fame came in 1971, when a documentary, The Best Unknown Guitarist in the World, aired on public TV. The documentary was about Buchanan, a blues-rock virtuoso whose gritty, distinctive technique inspired scores of guitarists, including Jeff Beck.
Did you know "the electronic guitar is often dismissed as nothing but a jangling noise machine incapable of subtlety or delicacy"? Neither did I—until I saw this video of Eric Clapton sitting on stage prior to a Cream show. Of course, Clapton doesn't utter these awesomely corny words. That job is left to the square-sounding narrator of the classic clip, who introduces Clapton's "How to Use a Gibson SG to Get the Classic Clapton Tone" lesson.
The recent passing of the great B.B. King has inspired a host of casual blues fans to dig deep into their record collection—or into the depths of their iTunes libraries—to get a refresher course on exactly what made King so special. Oddly enough, I had actually started revisited his expansive catalog the week before he became ill back in April.
Folks, meet the B-Blender, an aftermarket B-bender unit that can be attached to any guitar with a U.S.-made or imported Bigsby vibrato. The B-Blender is special—and very intriguing to a lot of guitarists—because it allows you to use your Bigsby the traditional way, as a normal vibrato unit, changing the pitch of whatever strings you happen to be playing as you employ the vibrato. Yet—and here's the cool part—it's also a B-bender.