Jimmie Vaughan capped Blues Sunday after an equally strong performance from John Mayall and his Bluesbreakers.
22-May-2016: Blues Sunday at the 2016 Wildflower! Arts and Music Festival was another tremendous success. It would have been easy to rest on the laurels of Rock and Roll Saturday’s big turnout, but the staff and the performers were determined to make an evening of the blues something for the fans to remember.
Blues fans are dedicated to the music and came out en masse to see some of the best musicians touring today. Not a single member of the audience went away disappointed.
The huge crowd came out first to see the legendary John Mayall and his Bluesbreakers, a true pioneer of the English Blues genre. Many also came to see his lead guitarist – DFW’s own Rocky Athas.
Mr. Mayall, 82 years young and author of 71 studio albums, was fit and spry. He still loves playing and entertaining and interacting with the crowd.
John opened his set playing the keyboards and harmonica on “Nothing To Do With Love.” He introduced the rest of the band and didn’t miss the opportunity to embarrass Rocky in front of his family and friends. He and Rocky have developed a symbiotic relationship over the years where they can play off each other and still complement one another.
Mayall was in great voice for the Albert King cover of “Oh Pretty Woman.” Jay Davenport pounded a driving drum beat and Rocky soloed with a stretch of lightning-fast fingering on “Dirty Water.”
Mr. Mayall then played blues on the harmonica in one hand and rock on the keyboard with his other. This level of talent was not lost on the pro-Mayall crowd.
A fan favorite, “I Want All My Money Back,” was highlighted by John and Rocky. “Heartache” from the first of his 71 studio albums in 1965, still sounded great and was so progressive for the time.
Bassist Greg Rzab got to shine on “Congo Square,” where his aggressive playing fit the song perfectly. “So Many Roads” made the audience feel the pain behind the lyrics and the somber tone. Jay again showed why percussion is such an important part of the blues with his powerful drumming. They turned it into a fun song at the end as each musician showed their soul in their artistry.
John ended the show by saying, “We like to have a little fun with our last song,” and they had fun. “The Sum Of Something” included more solos and jams. They played with each other and against each other. They had a blast and ended the night with a rocking finale to rival any final song from any concert.
The ever-increasing crowd got excited all over again as Jimmie Vaughan and the Tilt-A-Whirl Band came on stage. Starting with a blues/jazz instrumental, Jimmie’s fingers moved deftly across the fret. The horn section turned it into a celebration of music.
They explored different styles of blues with “I Ain’t Never” and “Dirty Work At The Crossroads.” The band showcased the horns and more fancy fingering by Jimmie on a few seldom-heard songs.
Vaughan then brought out his good friend, Lou Ann Barton, who lent her beautiful voice to the next few songs. “I’m In The Mood For You,” “Ti Na Ni Na Nu” and “Sugar Coated Love” absolutely thrilled the dedicated fans who sang along with her. Jimmie and Lou Ann have worked together for many years, and it shows in their playfulness onstage.
Vaughan kept picking precise notes on one song and then chicken-scratch fingering on another to entertain the crowd. Ms. Barton danced when she wasn’t singing and mesmerized the crowd when she was singing.
Beautiful duets on “Power Of Love” and “I’ll Miss You So” provided intense lyrics as well as the band providing the right complementary sound. The upbeat “Boom-Bapa-Boom” let Jimmie show his guitar-behind-the-head trick before another duet. Lou Ann then used her entire vocal range and stunned the adoring crowd on “Oh Yeah, My Baby’s Gone.”
Ms. Barton then left the stage as Jimmie sang “White Boots,” a hit song he had with his brother. Another hit he had with the Fabulous Thunderbirds, “The Crawl,” was another fan favorite as he poured his heart into a solo.
They played a long jam for the final song of their set but came back quickly with an encore of solos and hits. They finished with the classics “Wine Wine Wine” and “Six Strings Down” to deafening applause
The blues are still alive in many places, especially in D/FW. Musicians such as Jimmy Vaughan and John Mayall have kept it alive and are intent on helping others take it into the future. Like any of form of music, it is evolving. The blues also preserves its past, though, and honors those who have been influential along the way.
Catch Jimmy Vaughan when he comes to your area. John Mayall tours constantly and this leg lasts until October. Thanks to everyone at the Wildflower! Arts and Music Festival, especially Billy “Swish” Walker.
Joe Guzman was on hand to record the event.