June 13, 2024


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CD review: Jimmie Vaughan Trio – Live at C-Boy’s 2018: Video

Hip Blues Blast readers are in the know about who Jimmie Vaughan is and his importance to the Blues world. But, for any uninitiated, Jimmie Vaughan is one of the greatest Blues guitarist of all time. Throughout his long influential career he has been a torchbearer (along with contemporaries such as Ronnie Earl, Duke Robillard and John Primer) for clear authentic electric guitar sound.

Vaughan’s Blues is a Texas hybrid of R&B, shuffling two-step and greasy Chicago, with a hint of New Orleans groove for seasoning. Jimmie developed this style early on with musical partner Kim Wilson in The Fabulous Thunderbirds and has grown and innovated since he started his solo career in the early 90’s.

Mr. Vaughan is a generous collaborator and a humble band leader which is reaffirmed in his newest album Live at C-Boy’s. Attributed to the Jimmie Vaughan Trio with the subtitle “featuring Mike Flanigin” this record is a document of three Austin, TX legends chilling and having a great time communicating musically. The song selections are almost immaterial, it is the unique contributions of Vaughan, Hammond B3 master Flanigin and dearly departed drummer Frosty Smith that make this 36 minutes of organ trio Soul Jazz shine.

Mike Flanigin is a student of the Blues. It is highly recommended that everyone follow him on Instagram. He has been posting a Blues master class on the formational Blues records that influenced him. Flanigin has been having a big year after producing Sue Foley’s excellent return to the Blues limelight The Ice Queen (which Vaughan also contributed too). Flanigin is the type of B3 player who creates his own band, with a left hand technique as strong as Big John Patton’s or Jack McDuff’s and a musical acuity to melody like Larry Young or Jimmy Smith.

Frosty Smith, who passed away in April of 2017 after long battles with illness, was one of the most expressive drummers on the Austin scene. Smith played with a who’s who of Texas musicians including Alejandro Escovedo, Junior Brown, Marcia Ball, Doug Sahm and the Texas Mavericks, and Omar and the Howlers. Smith was the type of drummer who took every drum in the set as a uniquely voiced instrument and created torrents of music. On almost every chorus of every song on Live at C-Boy’s, Smith creates ever changing dynamics and vibes while still holding down the foundation of the song. This is essential technique for an organ trio and what makes this album the pure joy it is to listen to.

Let’s not forget our band leader. Jimmie Vaughan’s clean Stratocaster guitar style is the epitome of cool. This guitar sound coupled with his vintage clothes style and pompadour hair has made Vaughan the embodiment of the slick Bluesman. Vaughan’s playing is effortlessly melodic and astonishingly tasteful. He has a fraction of a second lag in his phrasing that creates so much drama, making the listener wait for the resolution of his riffs. It is infectious.

Live at C-Boy’s is mostly instrumental and therefore allows the musicians to stretch, giving the music space to breath and develop. Flanigin and Vaughan share lead duties. The deep dark take on “Saint James Infirmary” is a B3 vehicle, which Flanigin takes into the stratosphere on the final choruses. There is an almost unrecognizable instrumental take on the Beatles “Can’t Buy Me Love.” Re-framing the iconic chorus as a hard bop head, guitar and organ play the melody in unison. There are three songs featuring vocals. A sing-a-long pass at “Hey! Baby” gets the whole bar into the action. Flanigin sings a shuffling “Come On Rock Little Girl.” The vocal winner, though, is Jimmie’s testifying of “Dirty Work at the Crossroads.” An underrated singer, Vaughan opens up the floodgates on “Dirty Work” and lays it down hard.

Live at C-Boy’s is an essential album. The intimate live club setting puts the listener into the room, witnessing this powerful, fun-loving and engaging music. This is real deal Blues and Soul Jazz at its finest.

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