Ronan McCullagh takes over this month and begins with a look at Jimmie Vaughan’s style.
Born in Dallas County, Texas, Jimmie Vaughan began playing guitar as a child. Inspired by the sounds of AM radio, Vaughan’s young life revolved around learning the music of Jimmy Reed, Johnny ‘Guitar’ Watson, BB King, and Freddie King among others. When Vaughan left Dallas at age 19 and moved to Austin his career started to take shape with his own outfit The Storm, which supported many touring blues musicians.
It was in Austin that Jimmie Vaughan would meet Kim Wilson, a vocalist and harmonica player. Together they formed The Fabulous Thunderbirds along with drummer Mike Buck and bassist Keith Ferguson. After a reasonably short and disappointing spell with Chrysalis records the band was dropped in 1982 but later resurfaced in 1986, with Epic/ Associated releasing the hit album Tuff Enuff, which sold over a million copies.
Unfortunately, The Fabulous Thunderbirds struggled to achieve that kind of success again and in 1989 a frustrated Vaughan left the band putting it down to a disagreement of musical direction. Pursuing a fruitful solo career Vaughan has five fantastic solo albums under his belt and, what is no doubt a personal treasure for him, the duet album Family Style, which Jimmie recorded with his late younger brother Stevie.
This month’s studies are inspired by two stages in Vaughan’s career. The more ‘powerful’ overdriven vocab of The Fabulous Thunderbirds along with the more traditional style of his later work that can be found on the likes of Do You Get The blues?.
The capo is Jimmie’s tool of choice as it allows him to use those open strings in his lines. He is also no stranger to dropped or open tunings, which gives us a different feel and flavour to the guitar that we just don’t get in standard tuning. Jimmie also favours the back end of the beat especially in his rhythm style, which is obviously a huge nod to one of his first influences: Jimmy Reed. Finally, although this is not on this month’s examples, when recording Jimmie sometimes uses his first and second finger in upstrokes to get a more authentic blues tone, so you might want to try this too. NEXT MONTH Ronan discovers the dark and fiery playing of the legendary Muddy Waters
Jimmie Vaughan with a capo at the first fret on his Stratocaster