Welcome to Day 28 of the Indiegogo Campaign for The Shopkeeper: A Documentary about Mark Hallman and the Congress House. Every day during the campaign I am featuring a few artists who have recorded at the Congress House.
As a founding member of the Fabulous Thunderbirds, Jimmie Vaughan was one of the leading Austin, Texas guitarists of the late ’70s and ’80s, responsible for opening the national market up for gritty roadhouse blues and R&B. Influenced by guitarists like Freddie King, B.B. King, and Albert King, Vaughan developed a tough, lean sound that became one of the most recognizable sounds of ’70s and ’80s blues and blues-rock. For most of his career, Vaughan co-led the Fabulous Thunderbirds with vocalist Kim Wilson. It wasn’t until 1994 that he launched a full-fledged solo career.
Born and raised in Dallas, Texas, Jimmie Vaughan began playing guitar as a child. Initially, Vaughan was influenced by both blues and rock & roll. While he was in his teens, he played in a number of garage rock bands, none of which attained any success. At the age of 19, he left Dallas and moved to Austin. For his first few years in Austin, Vaughan played in a variety of blues bar bands. In 1972, he formed his own group, the Storm, which supported many touring blues musicians.
In 1974, Vaughan met a vocalist and harmonica player named Kim Wilson. Within a year, the pair had formed the Fabulous Thunderbirds along with bassist Keith Furguson and drummer Mike Buck. For four years, the T-Birds played local Texas clubs, gaining a strong fan base. By the end of the decade, the group had signed a major label contract with Chrysalis Records and seemed bound for national stardom. However, none of their albums became hits and they were dropped by Chrysalis at the end of 1982.
At the same time the T-Birds were left without a recording contract, Jimmie’s younger brother, Stevie Ray Vaughan, came storming upon the national scene with his debut album, Texas Flood. For the next few years, Stevie Ray dominated not only the Texan blues scene, but the entire American scene, while Jimmie and the Thunderbirds were struggling to survive. the T-Birds finally received a new major-label contract in 1986 with Epic/Associated and their first album for the label, Tuff Enuff, was a surprise hit, selling over a million copies and spawning the Top Ten hit title track.
the Fabulous Thunderbirds spent the rest of the ’80s trying to replicate the success of Tuff Enuff, often pursuing slicker, more commercially oriented directions. By 1989, Jimmie Vaughan was frustrated by the group’s musical direction and he left the band. Before launching a solo career, he recorded a duet album with his brother, Stevie Ray, Family Style. Following the completion of the record, Stevie Ray Vaughan died in a tragic helicopter crash in August of 1990. Family Style appeared just a few months later, in the fall of 1990.
After Stevie Ray’s death, Jimmie took a couple of years off, in order to grieve and recoup. After a couple of years, he began playing the occasional concert. In 1994, he returned with his first solo album, Strange Pleasures, which received good reviews and sold respectably. Vaughan supported Strange Pleasures with a national tour. Out There followed in 1998. Released in 2010, Plays Blues, Ballads & Favorites found Vaughan covering songs by Jimmy Reed, Little Richard, Roy Milton, Roscoe Gordon and others who inspired him when he was first starting out as a musician. The like-minded Plays More Blues, Ballads & Favorites followed in 2011.
VALLEJO (pronounced Va-lay-ho) has become one of the most popular rock bands to hail from “The Live Music Capital of the World” Austin, Texas with their sonic melting pot of classic album rock mixed with contagious funky rhythms and Latin percussion.
Started by the three Vallejo brothers from El Campo, Texas – vocalist and lead guitarist AJ Vallejo, twin brother Alejandro Vallejo on drums and younger sibling Omar Vallejo on bass – along with high school friend Bruce Castleberry on guitar and percussionist Alex Geismar, Vallejo has toured all over the US and Mexico tearing up stages with their fiery live performances with such acts as Matchbox 20, Stone Temple Pilots, Juanes and Los Lobos. Vallejo has also had many of their songs featured in national television shows NBC’s Roswell, UPN’s America’s Top Model, MTV’s Jersey Shore and HBO’s True Blood.
After over 15 years of being a band, with thousands of shows under their belts, numerous awards and a career spanning 11 album releases, Vallejo has arrived again with their first album in four years entitled “Brothers Brew”. Released on August 21st, the new album written, recorded and produced by the Vallejo Bros. features 13 songs recorded at their own VMG Studios in Austin, Texas.
Featuring the video singles for album opener “Euphoria” and mid-tempo groover “Waiting On You” and the bombastic swagger of “Free” – Vallejo’s new CD Brothers Brew is another strong musical testament to rock ‘n roll proving that blood is thicker than water and that for this band of brothers…the rhythm is definitely in the blood.
Don Walser was born in Brownfield, Texas. A roots musician since he was 11 years old, Walser became an accomplished guitarist, vocalist, and songwriter. He started his first band, The Panhandle Playboys, at age 16, and shared bills with another aspiring Texas singer, Buddy Holly.
As rock’n’roll began to skyrocket in popularity, Walser opted to stay in the Texas Panhandle, raise a family and work as a mechanic and later as an auditor for the National Guard, rather than move to Nashville and pursue a recording career. As a result, he had little following outside Texas for the first part of his career. However, he never stopped playing and became widely known in Texas. From 1959-61 Walser had a group called The Texas Plainsmen and a weekly radio program. For the next three decades he was always in bands and played a heavy schedule. He wrote popular original songs such as “Rolling Stone from Texas”, which received a four-star review in 1964 from Billboard magazine.
As time went on, Walser also became known for maintaining a catalog of older, obscure country music and cowboy songs. He keep alive old 1940s and 1950s tunes by country music pioneers such as Bob Wills and Eddie Arnold, and made them his own in a style that blended elements of honky tonk and Western swing. He also was known for his extraordinary yodeling style in the tradition of Slim Whitman and Jimmie Rodgers.
In 1984, the Guard transferred Walser to Austin, a center of the burgeoning alt-country music scene. He put together his Pure Texas Band and developed a strong local following. Walser opened for Johnny Cash in 1996. In 1990, Walser was “discovered” by musician and talent scout TJ McFarland.
In 1994, aged 60, Walser retired from the Guard. Able to devote himself fully to music for the first time in his life, he was immediately signed by Watermelon Records, and released his first LP, Rolling Stone From Texas, produced by Ray Benson of Asleep at the Wheel. His extraordinary vocal abilities earned him the nickname “the Pavarotti of the Plains” by a reviewer for Playboy magazine. Because of his Austin base, he attracted fans from country music traditionalists, and alternative music and punk fans. His band later became the opening act for the Butthole Surfers.
Don Walser was voted “Best Performing Country Band” at the Austin Music Awards, was voted top country band of the year by the Austin Chronicle in 1996, and received an Association for Independent Music “Indie” Award in 1997. He also received recognition in mainstream country, and played the Grand Ole Opry on October 30, 1999, and again in 2001. In 2000 he received a lifetime “Heritage” award from the National Endowment for the Arts, and he and the Pure Texas Band played at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. He also received cameo roles in feature movies with honky-tonk settings, such as The Hi-Lo Country (1998), starring Woody Harrelson.
In September, 2003, Don Walser retired from live performances due to health issues. Three years later, Walser died due to complications from diabetes on September 20, 2006, 6 days after his 72nd birthday.
A staunch adherent of old-style honky tonk and Bakersfield country, Dale Watson has positioned himself as a tattooed, stubbornly independent outsider only interested in recording authentic country music. As a result, he has never sold many records, but his music has been championed by numerous critics and alternative country fans.
Watson was born in Alabama in 1962 but spent his teenage years near Houston, and he grew to think of Texas as his true home state. His father and brother were both musically inclined, and he began writing his own songs at age 12, making his first recording two years later. After graduating from high school, he spent seven years playing local clubs and honky tonks. He moved to Los Angeles in 1988 on the advice of Rosie Flores and soon joined the house band at North Hollywood’s now-legendary alt-country venue the Palomino Club. He recorded two singles for Curb in 1990, “One Tear at a Time” and “You Pour It On,” and appeared on the third volume of the compilation series A Town South of Bakersfield in 1992. Not long after, he moved to Nashville and spent some time writing songs for the Gary Morris publishing company.
Watson didn’t find commercial country much to his taste, and he relocated to the more progressive-minded scene in Austin, TX, where he formed a backing band called the Lone Stars. He scored a deal with Hightone and released his debut album, Cheatin’ Heart Attack, in 1995. It was greeted with enormous acclaim for the vitality Watson brought to his vintage-style material and performances and also featured a witty dig at mainstream country in “Nashville Rash.” Follow-up Blessed or Damned appeared in 1996 and continued in a similar vein, as did 1997’s I Hate These Songs. His next release, The Truckin’ Sessions, appeared on Koch in 1998 and was devoted entirely to that distinct country subgenre of truck-driving songs.
Unfortunately, it was almost his last. In 2000, Watson’s fiancée was killed in an automobile accident; devastated, he attempted to drown his sorrows in booze and drugs and nearly died of an overdose shortly after Christmas. He wound up checking himself into a mental institution to recover and re-emerged later in 2001 with the deeply sorrowful tribute Every Song I Write Is for You, which appeared on Koch’s new country imprint Audium. A couple of lower-key releases followed, the holiday album Christmas in Texas (2001) and Live in London, England (2002). In 2004, with his heart still on his sleeve, but a thicker skin, Watson released Dreamland. He also prepared himself for the lead role in Zalman King’s forthcoming cowboy drama, Austin Angel.
Watson was inducted into the Austin Music Hall of Fame one year later. He took a break from music for the majority of that year, moving to Maryland in order to spend more time with his daughters. He was back playing gigs in Austin by 2006, and a documentary on Watson, Crazy Again, premiered at SXSW that year. Directed by Zalman King, the film charted Watson’s mental breakdown following the death of his fiancée. A new full-length, From the Cradle to the Grave, came out in 2007, along with a second album, The Little Darlin’ Sessions. The Truckin’ Sessions, Vol. 2 appeared in 2009 from Hyena Records. The following year saw the release of Carryin’ On, which featured session players active in the ’50s and ’60s, the era so beloved by Watson. In 2012 he released El Rancho Azul on Red House, with his road band, the Lonestars.