From Roadhouses to Carnegie Hall

Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble -
Live at Carnegie Hall

(Epic Records)
4 stars (out of 5 stars)

By Tony Bonyata

Six years before Texas guitar legend Stevie Ray Vaughan met his untimely death right here Walworth County, when his helicopter crashed after a hot and steamy performance at Alpine Valley on August 26th, 1990, he played a sold-out concert at the prestigious Carnegie Hall in New York City. Vaughan, who had began his musical career playing gritty Lone Star roadhouses and dive saloons, had always wanted to play Carnegie Hall. To him it represented high culture and he felt that it was the most difficult place in the States to get a booking, especially for a blues artist such as himself.
Performed one day after his 30th birthday, Vaughan and his Double Trouble bandmates, drummer Chris Layton and bassist Tommy Shannon, decided to expand their bare-bones Texas-blues sound into a full-tilt boogie, brass 'n blues band for this special event, complete with Dr. John's honky-tonk keyboards, brother Jimmy Vaughn's rhythm guitar and Roomful of Blues jump 'n jive horns. This was the first, and also notably the last time Vaughan had performed with a horn section in his career.
Now thirteen years later, the fabled Carnegie Hall Show can now be heard on Stevie Ray Vaughn's fifth posthumous release, Stevie Ray Vaughn and Double Trouble - Live at Carnegie Hall. This recording gives us a brief glimpse into a singer / songwriter / guitarist-extraordinaire that actually lives up to the almost mythological legend that was once reserved for only the likes of Jimi Hendrix.
Vaughan performed smoking renditions of songs from his first two studio albums, Texas Flood and Couldn't Stand The Weather, such as the hair-trigger guitar stand-off on "Scuttle Buttin'", the Chuck Berry inspired guitar riffed "Love Struck Baby" and the swanky, but all too cool, "Cold Shot".
The Texas blues-smith also paid homage that evening to some of his favorite blues heroes that never got the opportunity to play Carnegie Hall. On Guitar Slim's "Letter To My Girlfriend", Vaughan delivered some down-home, heart-felt vocals while the Roomful Of Blues horns provided a swinging brass backdrop. Albert Collin's "Iced Over" showcased Vaughan's jumping guitar over a big band swing, and on Albert King's cover of "C.O.D.", Dr. John's breathy organ swirled behind guest-singer Angela Strehli's guttural, soulful delivery, as Stevie Ray laid down a faithful, bluesy guitar lead.
After the last rousing encore number, "Rude Mood", another blistering Chuck Berry inspired guitar instrumental, Vaughan humbly said to the crowd, and to the prestigious Hall itself, "Thank you very much for making this my best birthday ever...forever".

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