Jimmie Vaughan’s had a busy week in London. This sold-out show at Dingwalls is his fourth, and comes just a couple of days after three nights opening for Eric Clapton at The Royal Albert Hall. Tonight’s stage may be smaller and a little less prestigious, but the show’s no less special: it’s the launch event for his latest album, Baby, Please Come Home (www.lastmusic.co.uk), which features some of his favourite blues classics. It’s also a part of Future Juke A Festival Of 21st Century Blues.
It’s good to see the guitarist extraordinaire (who also happens to be the late, great Stevie Ray Vaughan’s older brother) back at a legendary venue he played many times with The Fabulous Thunderbirds in the late ’70s and throughout the 1980s before going solo in 1989.
For this tour, Jimmie is joined by a very dapper eight-piece band complete with a brass section known as The Texas Horns (Mark “Kaz” Kazanoff on sax, Al Gomez on trumpet, and John Mills on baritone) and Mike Flanigin on the mighty Hammond B3 that drives the band along throughout.
The set opens with Instrumental Theme, allowing everyone a short solo that demonstrates this very tight unit will be playing with great economy throughout the night. When Vaughan himself unleashes a wonderfully brief (maybe 20 second) burst of histrionics as his first solo, he gets a huge cheer from the 500-strong crowd.
After a brief hello and intro to say how happy he is to be back at Dingwalls, he leads the musicians through a pin-sharp rendition of the Lloyd Price classic Baby, Please Come Home, which sees Vaughan nodding to the extremely tight brass section as and when to come in.
I Ain’t Never is the next classic to get this treatment, the brass stabs accentuating the lyrics perfectly as one of the night’s many heartbreak blues songs unfolds. Clarence Gatemouth Brown’s Dirty Work At The Crossroads has a really cool “very Jimmy Smith” style solo on the Hammond B3 that helps to make it really swing.
I’m sure Lefty Frizell didn’t do it like this, but Vaughan’s re-working of No One To Talk To (But The Blues) brings out both the sadness and loneliness at the heart of this magnificent song, with his guitar really weeping.
Between songs, Vaughan does his level-best to make it seem as though they don’t have a set list, asking the band if they know Roll Roll Roll. And, well if they don’t, they do an amazing job of making it this effortlessly tight.
Halfway through the set, Vaughan announces they’ll be playing some stuff from his previous album, Live at C-Boys With The Jimmie Vaughan Trio. It’s a move that allows them to strip the band back to a six piece on Silly Dilly Woman, with Flanigin effortlessly turning the Amos Milburn piano parts into a great organ romp accentuated by Vaughan’s guitar and more “stabs” from the Horns.
Frame For The Blues goes even more minimalist and is played by a stripped-back trio, really allowing the guitarist to shine on his signature Fender. And perhaps the biggest singalong moment of the night comes on Hey Baby, a tune made famous again by the film Dirty Dancing but more recently adopted as a sports chant for both darts and football. A good part of the audience sing it as if they’e still at a darts match with some very cheeky “oooh aaah’s”!
It’s Been A Long Time sees the full eight-piece group back and wringing every bit of emotion out of this song, before Vaughan dedicates Still In Love With You to his love Robin, who’s somewhere in the crowd tonight.
Baby Scratch My Back sounds like they’re all having a ball before the guitarist dedicates Texas Flood to his brother and near enough brings the house down, sounding fearsomely good and getting the biggest reaction of the night.
Vaughan goes back to his Fabulous Thunderbirds roots for a storming run through The Crawl, only mildly hampered by us not having enough room to do the dance properly. To close the set they reprise the opening Instrumental Theme and all take one final solo (including a fantastic trumpet performance from Gomez), with Vaughan doing his best to out-solo second guitarist Billy Pitman.
Of course they all return for a well-deserved encore featuring a wonderful version of I’m So Glad, Fiona’s Coming Home and that just leaves time for Vaughan to make sure we’re all Drinking Wine. And what his version lacks in “spodee odee’s”, it leaves everyone wanting more at the end of a brilliant two-hour set.
Review of Jimmie Vaughan at Dingwalls on 17th May 2019 by Simon Phillips. Photos by Simon Jay Price.