The set includes five CDs of rare and unreleased early recordings, highlights from Vaughan's successes with The Fabulous Thunderbirds, his collaborations with his late brother Stevie Ray, solo work, live recordings and more. Alongside the musical treasures, the box includes a 200+ page book including an essay by famed Texan music writer Bill Bentley and a plethora of writings by Vaughan himself.
The idea for the set first came when Vaughan was asked by Last Music Co. label manager Malcom Mills if he had any unreleased materials that he’d like to release for a box set, and the pair got to work digging through Vaughan’s archives for hidden treasures. Among the recordings seeing the light of day for the first time are late '60s recordings by Vaughan’s first band The Storm, which were made while he was still a teenager.
“I was shocked to find old recordings of shows we did at Antone’s in Austin back in the mid-'60s," Vaughan says. "The whole set has a thread. You can hear the evolution of the music scene and how I play throughout the years.”
To support the release, Vaughan will play a series of live shows opening for Eric Clapton including a Sept. 13 date at the Dickies Arena in Fort Worth, as well as several solo concerts including a Nov. 13 date at the Kessler in his hometown of Dallas.
Vaughan’s status as a stalwart of the Texas blues scene was practically cemented since his childhood, growing up listening to Jimmy Reed, Merle Travis and others, going to the State Fair to see country, blues and what Vaughan calls “hillbilly” musicians playing the same stage.
“On Channel 11 in Dallas, they used to have country music and rock-and-roll stuff on Saturday afternoons until night,” Vaughan says. “One show right after the other: Cowboy Weaver, Cowtown Jamboree, all that stuff. It’s a real trip.”
Vaughan is joyfully and purposefully ambiguous when defining the Texas blues style made famous by him and his brother, along with titans like Freddie King and Lightnin’ Hopkins before them.
“It’s just Texas American music," Vaughan says. "The type of music that I’ve always loved has always remained. It’s blues. It’s rock and roll. It’s country done in a blues way. It’s a mixture of that and all other kinds of music. There’s no way to pigeonhole it.”
The statement echoes an oft re-quoted saying by another staple of Dallas rock ‘n’ roll: Jonathan Tyler, who once said, “Rock ‘n’ roll, blues, and country are all the same thing, just wearing different clothes.”
“That’s the truth,” Vaughan says. “It’s the same thing. When I was growing up, I just thought it was cool music. I didn’t realize people called them different things. He’s right, it’s all the same. It’s a mixture; it’s American, and it’s wonderful.”
The conversation steers to the meaning of "Good Texan," as in the title of the lusty cowboy-meets-cowgirl romp on 1990’s Family Style, Vaughan's collaborative album with Stevie Ray — the only record the two made together.
“I’m doing OK; everything’s going to be OK ... “The governor and I talked about music, and he said he was looking forward to seeing me play with Eric in Austin.” –Jimmie Vaughan on meeting with Gov. Abbott a day before the latter's COVID diagnosis.
“Oh, that?” Vaughan says with a laugh. “That was just a song that I wrote. It was silly. I just felt like writing a silly song about being a Texan. I wrote that on an airplane, and it was the first thing I wrote for the Family Style album. When my mother heard it, she gasped and said ‘Jim!?’ like I had done something naughty when I was a kid.”
Recently, Vaughan made headlines for taking part in a meeting/photo op with Texas Gov. Gregg Abbott one day before Abbott was diagnosed with COVID-19. As Abbott was fully vaccinated, he was and currently remains asymptomatic at the time of writing. Vaughan was immediately tested for COVID after learning of the governor's diagnosis and came out negative.
“I’m doing OK; everything’s going to be OK,” Vaughan says. “The governor and I talked about music, and he said he was looking forward to seeing me play with Eric in Austin.”
While putting the box set together, Vaughan said that it was at times “overwhelming and emotional” to re-visit a lifetime’s worth of material, most of which had been forgotten even by him. If anything, it’s strengthened his love for his profession.
“It was fun putting all that stuff in the box set," he says. "I’ve really had a great time playing all these years. I’ve been playing since I was 12, and I’ve really enjoyed it, and still do. I play all the time. It’s what I do.”