Memories of SVR

Today would have been the 58th birthday of Stevie Ray Vaughan, it has been 22 years since the helicopter crash outside of Chicago that ended his run. I was fortunate to catch his shows a couple times. Stevie Ray was a blues man, which means you had to see him live. Blues on any recording just does not match the power of being at a live show. I will say that again…you have not heard blues until you have seen a real master performing in person. There is an energy that can’t be explained only experienced.
He played at JB’s Theatre in Albany N.Y with his brother’s band The Fabulous Thunderbirds warming up. I waited outside in the rain for tickets and got in early and stood in the front row leaning against the stage. I was only inches away from the Wah Wah pedal duct-taped to the stage…I knew the stories…This was Jimi Hendrix’s Wah Wah pedal!!! Jimi’s pedal and it was almost close enough to reach out and touch…but I could not break the sanctity and just remained awestruck. I was a bit disappointed that Stevie Ray was wearing a floppy “French-guy” hat instead of the cowboy hat he was known for. I would later learn of him fighting his demons of drugs and alcohol and seeking a more spiritual life. I don’t know at what stage in this battle I found him, I just know that losing this trademark part of his image meant something.
The thing I took away from the show was the complete dissociation from this world that took hold of him when he leaned back into a solo. I can see it now as I reflect on it…he was somewhere else. The fluid cascading waterfall of sound that happened when he leaned back was something. He really could care less if he was playing for 50,000 people or 20 people or no people at all, he was gone. He did get to his version of “Little Wing” which for me was the highlight. I never saw Jimi live….but I don’t think I would trade this moment away for it.

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