Surely there's no need to relive the events of 21 years ago today. Besides, we revisited that tragic tale exactly one year ago, when rewinding the "lost" Stevie Ray Vaughan and Triple Threat Revue sessions cut in Nashville in '78. Still, it's hard to believe we've been without the Oak Cliff bluesman for so long that those born on August 27, 1990, are today old enough to have their first (legal) drink.
Unofficial SRV offerings are plentiful; as long ago as '93, Joe Nick Patoski and Bill Crawford posted quite the catalog of boots in the back of their bio Caught in the Crossfire. We've heard some in recent years: Vaughan and David Bowie in Las Colinas rehearsing for The Tour That Wasn't, and Stevie special-guesting with Robert Cray at Redux on Lower Greenville in '87. But today's is particularly special: Stevie Ray Vaughan at the New Bluebird Nite Club in Fort Worth on September 30, 1979, when Fort Worth bluesman Robert Ealey ran the joint.
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The tape, occasionally rough but thoroughly essential, begins with "Hide Away," the Freddie King immortal that would eventually appear on 1984's Couldn't Stand the Weather; "Dirty Pool" and "Rude Mood," originals that made their bow on Texas Flood, follow. So too do Guitar Slim, Otis Rush, B.B. King, Jimmy Reed and Albert Collins covers -- an all-you-can digest buffet of influences so generously spread out.
Then Ealey takes the stage, and a tight-knit band relaxes -- you can tell they're making it up as they go. And so the classic hits keep rolling: "The Thrill is Gone," "I'll Take You There," "Crosscut Saw." The crowd whoops, hollers, joins in -- a very family affair.
Last night I shot Fort Worth boy Joe Nick a note about this tape, said to have come from no less than Sumter Bruton; I thought maybe he might have been there that night. No, he wasn't: "But I always thought it was cool he played there. I think it was because Miss LouAnn came outta there" -- referring, of course to Fort Worth native Lou Ann Barton, a member of Stevie's band back then -- "as did Mike Buck, the original T Birds drummer, and Johnny Reno," who'd quit Triple Threat in the spring of '79 to move back to Fort Worth.
Ealey, of course, is also no longer with us: He died March 8, 2001. Only two days ago a memorial page in his honor made its debut. What timing.