Growing up Texan, loving Stevie Ray Vaughan was never optional. Something deep inside us stirs when we hear his bluesy, wailing chords. We stop whatever we’re doing to listen with due reverence. His music speaks directly to the heart.
Jimmie Vaughan and The Grammy Museum are bringing a one-of-a-kind exhibit of Stevie Ray Vaughan memorabilia to the Bullock Texas State History Museum for music buffs to enjoy. Pride & Joy: The Texas Blues of Stevie Ray Vaughan opened on March 10, 2017 and will be open through July 23, 2017. The exhibit includes several items that haven’t been on display since the musician’s tragic early death in 1990. Austin, long-time home for Stevie Ray Vaughan and his older brother, Jimmie, is the fourth and final stop of the tour.
Personal Touch: Jimmie Shares Stevie Ray Vaughan Tales
Stevie Ray’s brother, Jimmie Vaughan, another Texas music icon, curated the exhibit with affection. I had the chance to be part of the press group that accompanied Jimmie as he walked through the gallery in Austin. He had an air of nostalgia, sharing stories of growing up playing music with Stevie Ray. It feels highly personal because it is. These are Jimmie’s own mementos, and each song sheet, album, guitar and outfit has a story behind it. He is an adept storyteller, as many musicians are.
Jimmie explains as we wander through his cherished treasures, “I’m the last one, you know? Stevie, my mom and dad are all gone.” After nearly 37 years, people still come to Jimmie’s shows and reminisce or ask about Stevie Ray. It occurred to Jimmie that sharing his collection of memories would be a good way to share the love. He expresses that it goes both ways. Seeing all the devotion people still have for Stevie Ray, all of the parents bringing their children to the show, makes him proud, makes him feel happy. “It’s a win-win.”
Brothers in Blues: The Early Years
Jimmie’s love for the blues and incredible head for detail come through while walking through the Pride & Joy exhibit and looking at each area. Anyone who has listened to Stevie Ray, Double Trouble, Jimmie, The Fabulous Thunderbirds or The Vaughan Brothers can tell these siblings have deep roots in the blues scene. Jimmie tells me about going with Stevie Ray to see their idols play, meet them and even play with them.
A memorable moment went down at Antone’s, when the Fabulous Thunderbirds were the house band. A young Stevie Ray told Clifford Antone he wanted to play with Albert King, one of the biggest names in blues. This was a cheeky request, to say the least. King was, according to Jimmie, “arguably the baddest-ass blues guitar player that ever lived…huge guy, about seven feet tall..bigger than anybody you ever saw.”
For a 17-year-old kid to actually get up and play with one of his heroes like that was a testament to his talent, his bravado, or both. Seeing the photo taken the moment Stevie Ray took the stage with King and started playing King’s own licks is delightful. King’s face says it all: who IS this kid? King took Stevie Ray Vaughan under his wing after that.
Die-hard fans all know the guitar, a Fender Stratocaster nicknamed “Number One.” This piece is the pride and joy of the Pride & Joy exhibit, one that musicians and enthusiasts flock to. A quick glance at the guitar and the action shot of Vaughan playing it makes clear that Stevie Ray loved and punished the instrument in equal measure. He extracted every drop of Texas blues that guitar had to give, and it shows.
Jimmie reminisces, “This is like a race car. A lot of the parts wear out; they’re changing them all the time.” Like a classic car, Stevie Ray’s guitar was rebuilt. Over and over. Jimmie points out the prominent “SRV” on the front of Number One. Because the guitar was tinkered with so many times, and Stevie Ray would sweat up a storm during a show, he had to replace the letters numerous times in his career. I asked Jimmie which song he would most like to play with Stevie Ray one more time. The answer? “Texas Flood!”
Purple Velvet and Feathers
I can’t mention the Vaughan Brothers without thinking of their personal style in both music and fashion. Stevie Ray’s hats are as identifiable as his guitar playing and voice. The Pride & Joy exhibit comes through with some of the most iconic hats, shirts and suits he wore on stage. This flamboyant gear is timeless in the sense that only someone like Stevie Ray could pull it off. Jimmie’s style is more subdued, but still easily identifiable.
Feed Your Inner Musician’s Dreams
Is there anything more appealing than a shiny blue drum set? Or an electric guitar with all of the cool pedals? The Bullock Museum has both. On one side of the room, you can play drums with Double Trouble’s Chris Layton (via video, but still). On the other side stands a guitar with five different effects Stevie Ray used, from Vibrate to Wah Wah. It’s darn near irresistible.
I was fortunate enough to see Stevie Ray Vaughan play in 1989. His performance that day at the Astrodome was the most impressive live performance I’d ever seen. He was electrifying! I will never forget how floored I was by the whole performance. I urge you to go grab a piece of Texas culture at the Bullock Museum, whether you are new to Austin or not. Few things scream outsider more than not knowing Stevie Ray Vaughan. After all, you probably jog, bike or walk your dog past his Auditorium Shores statue regularly.
Pride & Joy: The Texas Blues of Stevie Ray Vaughan is on display at 1800 S. Congress Ave. through July 23, 2017. Jimmie Vaughan often plays shows at local venues. See his schedule on Facebook.
@theAustinot wants to know:
What is your favorite Stevie Ray Vaughan song?