Written by Bill Whiting
Jimmie Vaughan’s October 5 appearance at the Southgate House in Newport, Kentucky was an unexpected early fall pleasure to local blues fans in the tri state. The veteran Texas guitar slinger’s former band, The Fabulous Thunderbirds, had recently paid a visit to Northern Kentucky, and many in attendance had favored the return of Mr. Vaughan and blues belter Lou Ann Barton. Vaughan did not disappoint, delivering a two hour performance full of high energy rock and blues staples. Taking the stage with his customary swagger, Vaughan played close attention to his two critically acclaimed recordings, Jimmie Vaughan Plays Blues Ballads and Favorites and it’s excellent 2011 successor, Jimmie Vaughan Plays More Blues Ballads and Favorites. Ripping into “I Ain’t Never” from Plays More, Vaughan was the pristine model for gritty Texas roadhouse blues, executing with perfect tone and stunning range, and his take on “I Hang My Head and Cry” captured the emotion and remorse of the firebrand number. Barton’s tall, lanky presence on stage fit the bill for their music perfectly, and she harmonized with Vaughan wonderfully on the swinging gem, “Breaking Up is Hard To Do.” Barton’s tough southern persona colored the rough rocking atmospheres of the driving “I’m in the Mood for You.” And, Vaughan pushed his string bending capabilities as far as he could take them on “What Makes You So Tough” and “White Boots” from his 1990 album collaboration with brother Stevie Ray. But, the most sublime moments of the evening were reserved for the deep cuts from Vaughan’s 1994 release, Strange Pleasure, as Jimmie encored with the solo tribute to his late brother on “Six Strings Down.” Vaughan’s arresting behind the head playing on “Boom-Bapa-Boom” took the entire Southgate House by surprise, earning several standing ovations. From the response of the audience at Jimmie Vaughan’s October 5 concert in Newport, Kentucky, his presence will be warmly anticipated and received the next time he visits the Greater Cincinnati area.