Thursday, December 27, 2012

Tony's Guitarist Picks - Billy Gibbons

Billy Gibbons – aka Billy F. Gibbons, BFG, the Rev. Willie G.  Thanks to MTV, he’s known mostly for cool customized cars, a long beard, cheap sunglasses, and being surrounded by gorgeous women.  What those people who know of him for only those things don’t know is that Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top is one hell of a guitar player.  The first ZZ Top album I ever owned was Degüello.  I bought it when it was new in 1979.  I’ve been a fan ever since.    Their motto is “tone, taste, and tenacity.” What do those mean? Of all the guitar players I like [and there are many], what makes Billy Gibbons so special?

Tone.  I’ve seen a lot of words to describe his tone - fuzz-drenched, distorted, crunchy, muddy, dirty, gritty, raunchy, nasty, fat, rude, thick, brown, tuned-down, earthy, reverb- and tremolo-drenched.  All of those words apply.  He does love those pinch harmonics.  The Rev. Willie G has no use for treble.  The nastiest tones Billy Gibbons put on record can be found on Rhythmeen and Mescalero [see clips below].

Zipper Job – Rhythmeen

Alley-Gator - Mescalero

Taste.  Not flashy, anti-shred, laid-back, rhythmical, creates cool, simple but effective rhythms.  He’s not fast – he doesn’t have to be.  Always melodic - I’ve never heard him play a bad solo. One of Billy's greatest strengths is his ability to lay back in the groove. He never rushes his parts. And he never over-plays — on rhythm or leads.  He’s an excellent slide player, too [Just Got Paid, Tush]. 

Tenacity.  ZZ Top have been together over forty years.  The same three guys have been in the band since the first album.  He once told BE Entertainment:  We still enjoy doing what we do, more than most anything else that a given day might offer. Playing is foremost in our minds, 24 hours a day. The notion of tone, taste and tenacity has been our byline for forever.”  BFG’s secret to longevity - “Play what you want to hear. Keep it fresh and keep the enjoyment factor in focus.

InfluencesBB King, Jimmy Reed, Elmore James, T-Bone Walker, Lightnin’ Hopkins, Albert Collins, Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, John Lee Hooker, Roky Erickson, Hendrix, Jeff Beck, Eric Clapton, Jimmie Vaughan, and Eric Johnson.  Note that there are quite a few Texans on this list.

Hendrix.  Unlike the other guitarists about whom I blog, Billy Gibbons actually knew Jimi Hendrix.  In June 1968, Billy’s pre-ZZ Top Band, the Moving Sidewalks, opened for Hendrix on a Texas tour.  After this tour, Jimi remarked that Billy Gibbons was his favorite guitar player.  If the Rev. Willie G. was Hendrix’s favorite, who am I to argue?

Guitars – BFG has a book titled Rock & Roll Gearhead.  It’s a coffee-table picture book of BFG’s guitars, hot rods, and oh yes, ZZ Top. BFG is an obsessive collector of both cars and guitars – he has over 450 guitars.  The book doesn’t show all of them, but the important ones are there.  His ’59 Les Paul [Pearly Gates], a ’58 Les Paul he used for slide on Just Got Paid, the “Fuzzy One” from the Legs video, and a ’66 Strat he used on La Grange are included.  By and large, BFG is a Gibson man – he loves his Les Pauls, and his Pearly Gates has been copied for a limited edition from Gibson.  Lately he’s been playing a Gretsch G6199 Billy-Bo signature model [aka Jupiter Thunderbird], based on a guitar given to him by Bo Diddley.  He’s been known to play Fender Telecasters and Esquires too.  Luthier John Bolin builds custom guitars for Billy.  But his favorite guitar is his Pearly Gates. 

Effects -  On those guitars, he likes light gauge strings – he uses the 7 gauge version.  One would think he’d use heavy strings to get the tones he gets, but BB King suggested he try lighter strings so he wouldn’t have to work so hard at playing.  As for pedals and amps and stuff, BFG has lots of toys and plays with them all.  Premier Guitar interviewed BFG's guitar tech, Elwood Francis.  He can show you in the clip below better than I can write about what his employer uses to get his righteous tones.

Rig Rundown – Billy Gibbons – courtesy of Premier Guitar

One Foot in the Blues – When I think of Texans who were purveyors of the blues, I think of Freddie King, Clarence “Gatemouth” Brown, Lightning Hopkins, Albert Collins, Johnny Winter, Stevie Ray Vaughan.  ZZ Top draws influences from many blues musicians.  The blues permeated everything they play - there's usually a I-IV-V blues progression in most ZZ Top songs, but blues is not the only thing they play.  To borrow a phrase from Warner Brothers, ZZ Top always has one foot in the blues.  They try to have one blues [and nothing but the blues] on each album [Afterburner didn’t have one – Rough Boy was a bit too syrupy].

The “blues songs”:
Certified Blues / Just Got Back From Baby’s / Sure Got Cold After The Rain Fell / Hot, Blue and Righteous / Blue Jean Blues / It’s Only Love / A Fool for Your Stockings / Dust My Broom / She Loves My Automobile / It’s So Hard / I Need You Tonight / 2000 Blues / Cover Your Rig / Vincent Price Blues / Made into a Movie / Tramp / Heartache in Blue

Tony’s iPod List:

ZZ Top’s First Album - (Somebody Else Been) Shaking Your Tree / Brown Sugar / Goin’ Down to Mexico / Certified Blues / Just Got Back From Baby’s / Backdoor Love Affair

Rio Grande MudFrancine / Just Got Paid / Chevrolet / Bar-B-Q / Sure Got Cold After The Rain Fell

Tres HombresWaitin’ On The Bus / Jesus Just Left Chicago / Beer Drinkers & Hell Raisers / Master of Sparks / Hot, Blue and Righteous / La Grange / Precious and Grace / Sheik

FandangoThunderbird / Blue Jean Blues / Mexican Blackbird  / Heard It on the X / Tush

TejasIt’s Only Love / Arrested for Driving While Blind / El Diablo / Enjoy and Get It On

Degüello I Thank You / I’m Bad, I’m Nationwide / A Fool for Your Stockings / Dust My Broom / Lowdown in the Street / Cheap Sunglasses / Esther Be the One

El LocoTube Snake Boogie / I Wanna Drive You Home / It’s So Hard / Pearl Necklace / Heaven, Hell or Houston

EliminatorGimme All Your Lovin’ / Got Me Under Pressure / Sharp Dressed Man / Legs / Thug / TV Dinners / Dirty Dog / I Need You Tonight

Afterburner Sleeping Bag / Stages / Woke Up With Wood / Can’t Stop Rockin’ / Delirious

RecyclerConcrete and Steel / Lovething / Penthouse Eyes / My Head’s in Mississippi / Give It Up / 2000 Blues / Doubleback

AntennaPincushion / World of Swirl / Fuzzbox Voodoo / PCH / Cover Your Rig

RhythmeenRhythmeen / What’s Up With That / Vincent Price Blues / Zipper Job / She’s Just Killing Me / Loaded

XXXPoke Chop Sandwich / 36-22-36 / Made into a Movie / Sinpusher / [Let Me Be Your] Teddy Bear / Hey Mr. Millionaire

MescaleroMescalero / Alley-Gator / Buck Nekkid  / Me So Stupid / Punk Ass Boyfriend / Stackin’ Paper/ Que Lastima / Tramp

La Futura -  I Gotsta Get Paid / Chartreuse / Consumption / Heartache in Blue / Flyin’ High / Big Shiny Nine / Threshold of a Breakdown

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Jon Lord - Concerto for Group and Orchestra

“Attempting to talk about a piece of music you have just written is difficult.  There is no retrospect.  So, without the benefits of hindsight, I will try to put into words what I hope will be apparent in the music...The problem of putting together two widely different field of music, ‘classical’ and beat (to label but a few) has interested me for a long time.  In fact, doing away with’ labels’ altogether has interested me for a long time.  The idea is, then, simply to present, in the First Movement, the group and the orchestra as antagonists, and in the Second and Third Movements, as unexpected allies…”
-          Jon Lord, 1969

Concerto for Group and Orchestra has a long and interesting history.  In June 1969, Deep Purple fired original vocalist Rod Evans and original bassist Nick Simper.  The remaining founders [Ritchie Blackmore, Jon Lord, and Ian Paice] all decided to take their music in a harder direction.  They replaced Evans and Simper with Ian Gillan and Roger Glover, respectively.  The new line-up began almost immediately to work up new material for their new direction.  However, the group’s management had seized upon a chance remark from Jon Lord that he’d like to “do something” with an orchestra.   When they asked him if he was serious about this, he told them yes, at which time they informed him they had booked the Royal Albert Hall for a September performance and that he’d better get to work.  So the keyboard player of a rock band who had no experience writing classical music had three months to come up with a score.   A new hard album from Deep Purple would have to wait.

One of Jon Lord’s influences was composer Sir Malcolm Arnold, who had written numerous symphonies and chamber works as well as movie scores [Bridge on the River Kwai anyone?].  Jon Lord asked Sir Malcolm to look over his work-in-progress.  Sir Malcolm not only liked what he saw, he offered to conduct the piece himself.   This support was most helpful because the band was apprehensive at best, and the London Philharmonic Orchestra was outright hostile.  After a half-hearted run-through of the piece with the LPO, Sir Malcolm gave them a good tongue lashing, telling the musicians they played “like a bunch of cunts.”  Ian Gillan waited until almost literally the last moment to write the lyrics, having done so the afternoon of the performance over a bottle or two of wine.  Sir Malcolm and Jon Lord managed to pull it off, with a stirring performance on September 24, 1969 that was recorded and released.  Deep Purple played the piece once more almost a year later [August 1970], this time with the LA Philharmonic at the Hollywood Bowl.  Their conductor wasn’t as supportive as Sir Malcolm.  He made changes to Jon Lord’s score.  After this performance, the original score vanished.

Deep Purple - Concerto for Group and Orchestra-Second Movement [1969]

Conductor Paul Mann contacted Jon Lord about the possibility of performing the Concerto on the 25th anniversary of its debut.  Lord thought about trying to reconstruct his lost score, but given that Deep Purple toured heavily after Ritchie Blackmore left the band, he thought the task was too daunting and too time-consuming.  In 1998, the unthinkable happened.  While Deep Purple was on tour in the Netherlands, he was approached in Rotterdam by a Dutch composer named Marco de Goeij.  He told Lord “I think I’ve recreated your Concerto.”  On his own initiative, de Goeij spent the better part of the previous two years transcribing the original Royal Albert Hall performance.  He watched the performance as filmed by the BBC, and listened to the album over and over again.  He did it for free, for the love of the music.  It was a sheer act of musical altruism of there ever was one.  Lord and Paul Mann got together to look at de Goeji’s transcription.  The transcription wasn’t complete, but enough of it was there for Lord and Mann to fill in the blanks.  Once completed, Deep Purple and the London Symphony Orchestra [conducted by Mann] performed the Concerto on September 25th and 26th, 1999, just over thirty years to the day after its debut.  In addition to performing the Concerto, the music program featured songs from each member’s solo careers.  Vocalists Miller Anderson and Sam Brown each performed one song from Jon Lord’s Pictured Within album.  Ronnie James Dio sang two songs from Roger Glover’s Butterfly Ball project. The Steve Morse Band performed the Dixie Dregs song Take It Off the Top.  Ian Gillan performed two songs from his solo catalog.  Ian Paice played the old Deep Purple instrumental Wring That Neck with a horn section.  After Wring That Neck the full band took the stage.  They played several Deep Purple songs with the orchestra.  The songs:  Pictures of Home [Machine Head], Ted the Mechanic [Purpendicular], Watching the Sky [Abandon], Sometimes I Feel Like Screaming [Purpendicular], and for the encore…Smoke on the Water, of which Dio sang the second verse.  It’s hard to imagine a version of Smoke on the Water with brass, but it’s entertaining.  Steve Morse sounded more comfortable playing this piece than did Ritchie Blackmore.  I think he was a lot more open to the idea than was Ritchie in 1969.  The entire performance was released on CD [Live at the Royal Albert Hall] and on DVD [In Concert with the London Symphony Orchestra].  Unlike the London Philharmonic in 1969, the LSO were very enthusiastic about performing with Deep Purple.  What a difference thirty years makes.  After these performances, Deep Purple did the unthinkable and took this show on the road.  They and the orchestra played the Concerto in over 30 cities around the world [in Argentina, Brazil, Mexico City, throughout Europe and later in Japan].  But the story of the Concerto doesn’t die here…

Deep Purple - Concerto for Group and Orchestra-Third Movement [1999]

About a year after this tour ended, Jon Lord amicably retired from Deep Purple.  He was 61 at the time, there were other musical things he wanted to do with his life, and a heavy touring schedule left little if any room for pursuing such interests.  His classical composition and recording career began to flourish.  His classical works include:

Boom of the Tingling Strings [2004] – a piano concerto of four movements recorded in Odense, Denmark with pianist Nelson Goerner and the Odense Symfoniorkester [conducted by Paul Mann];

Durham Concerto [2008] – a concerto commissioned by Durham University to celebrate its 175th anniversary.  This concerto has soloists on cello, violin, Northumbrian pipes, and Hammond organ [played by Jon Lord himself].  This was recorded with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra [conducted by Mischa Damev];

To Notice Such Things [2010] – a six-movement suite for solo flute, piano and string orchestra.   Jon Lord created this work in memory of his close friend Sir John Mortimer, creator of Rumpole of the Bailey.  This was also recorded by the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra [conducted by Clark Rundell].

But what about the Concerto for Group and Orchestra?  After his retirement from Deep Purple, Jon Lord took the Concerto on the road again and played it another seventeen times.  With more than forty public performances of the Concerto, Lord had the opportunity to fine-tune the score so it could receive a proper studio recording.  For this recording Jon Lord wanted to use different singers and guitarists for each of the Concerto’s three movements.  As with Durham Concerto and To Notice Such Things, the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra [conducted by Paul Mann] played on the studio version of Concerto for Group and Orchestra.

Track Listing:
Movement One – Moderato-Allegro:  Darin Vasilev - guitar
Movement Two – Andante:  Joe Bonamassa – guitar; Bruce Dickinson, Steve Balsamo, Kasia Laska – vocals;
Movement Three – Vivace-Presto:  Steve Morse – guitar.

Guy Pratt – bass
Brett Morgan – drums
Jon Lord – Hammond organ

The First Movement features guitarist Darin Vasilev.  Vasilev is a Bulgarian guitarist from the band TE.  I wondered how Jon Lord came to invite him to contribute to the studio version of the Concerto.  After a bit of research I found out why.   In 2009-10, TE performed the Concerto with Jon Lord in Bulgaria, Romania and Ukraine, so Vasilev was more than familiar with the material.  Vasilev shreds a bit, but he doesn’t overdo it.  His solo is shorter than that of Ritchie Blackmore from the first performance in 1969, but it works fine.

The Second Movement is the vocal bit.  At first it was a bit jarring to hear someone else sing Ian Gillan’s words.  After many listens one gets used to how something sounds. I knew nothing of Steve Balsamo and Kasia Laska, but they were a pleasant surprise.  They didn’t sing much – just the first couple of verses.  I knew what to expect from Bruce Dickinson – he pulled off his parts with his usual flair.    Joe Bonamassa was very good, though is appearance here was brief.

What’s my favorite part of the Concerto?  The Third Movement.  Steve Morse reprises his role from the Live at the Royal Albert Hall set.  It is good to hear him play with Jon Lord one final time.  He doesn’t copy his solos from the Albert Hall.  Jon Lord gives him the leeway to play what he wants to play.  Ian Paice is a hard act to follow on the drums, but Brett Morgan does a more than capable job.  Jon Lord was his usual, spectacular self.

Jon Lord - Concerto for Group and Orchestra-Andante [featuring Bruce Dickinson & Joe Bonamassa]

Concerto for Group and Orchestra is a fitting epitaph for Jon Lord.  He always wanted a studio version of his Concerto.  Before he passed away, he approved the final mixes of this release, so at least he knew what it sounded like.  This was his first classical composition, and 43 years after its debut, this studio version has gotten it right.  It is a joy to listen to.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Tony's Guitarist Picks - Stevie Ray Vaughan

Alpine Valley,
In the middle of the night,
Six strings down,
On the heaven-bound flight,
Got a pick, a strap, guitar on his back,
Ain’t gonna cut the angels no slack,
Heaven done called,
Another blues-stringer back home…
-          Jimmie Vaughan, Six Strings Down

Music in the early 1980s left a lot to be desired.  Led Zeppelin called it a day in 1980 after John Bonham died.  The Who were running out of gas after Keith Moon died.  The Allman Brothers Band broke up for the second time in 1982 after putting out two very shitty albums for Arista.  Synth pop from the likes of the Human League, Soft Cell, and A Flock of Seagulls dominated the airwaves.  Michael Jackson’s Thriller reigned supreme.  Lionel Richie’s solo career was in full flight.  Hall & Oates were very popular.  Hair metal was beginning to take off.  We were inundated with crappy music from the likes of Night Ranger, Motley Crüe, Quiet Riot, White Lion, and Poison.  If you turned on the radio, within 10 minutes Def Leppard would be on.  For people like me who like their blues-based music, the early 1980s was a musical wasteland.  Then, when all seemed lost, there was a ray of sunlight.

It all started with David Bowie.  In 1983 he released Let’s Dance.  KILO-94 in Colorado Springs played the hell out of the singles – Modern Love, China Girl, and Let’s Dance.  But one day they played a deep track – Cat People (Putting Out Fire).  That song had something I hadn’t heard from a Bowie song in a long time – raw, fiery guitar playing.  It quickly got my attention.  I had to find out who that guy was.   On the strength of that one song I bought an album, which I don’t usually do.  I found out who the guitar player was – a Texan named Stevie Ray Vaughan.  Shortly after Let’s Dance, SRV released his own album, Texas Flood.  Love Struck Baby and Pride and Joy got lots of much-welcomed airplay.  Blues-rock was going to make a comeback, and Stevie Ray Vaughan led the way.  I wasn’t alone in thinking that.  Dickey Betts once said this:  “Stevie Ray Vaughan singlehandedly brought guitar- and blues-oriented music back to the marketplace.  He was just so good and strong that he would not be denied.  When I heard Pride and Joy on the radio, I said ‘Hallelujah.’”

Couldn’t Stand the Weather came out in 1984, followed by Soul to Soul the following year.  Couldn’t Stand the Weather was almost a carbon copy of Texas Flood, but he did show the world that he was a devotee of Jimi Hendrix.  The title track, Cold Shot, and Voodoo Child [Slight Return] got a lot of airplay on KILO-94.  Keyboardist Reese Wynans joined Double Trouble for Soul to Soul and stayed until the end.  His Hammond B-3 gave Double Trouble a fuller sound, and his piano was another solo instrument added to the mix.  These albums saw more sides of SRV’s talent and taste – hard psychedelic rock and jazz were added to the hard-core Texas blues one would expect from SRV & Double Trouble.  While he recognized and honored those of who influenced him, he also began to write more original material.

Carol and I were fortunate enough to see SRV & Double Trouble in concert three days before we got married in 1987.  We saw him in Pueblo, Colorado at the Colorado State Fairgrounds.  Gregg Allman opened the show.  I’m No Angel was a hit at the time, and he played plenty of Allman Brothers tunes.  It was the first time of ten times that we saw Gregg, but the only time we got to see SRV.  SRV wasn’t a big guy, but that night he was a giant on-stage.  I don’t remember the exact setlist, but I do remember that I heard everything I wanted to hear.  That feat doesn’t happen very often, but since he had only four albums to his credit at the time, it was easier for him to do that than others who had been around a lot longer.  I thought there would be more chances to see SRV in the future, but it wasn’t to be.  About a week before I was to deploy to Saudi Arabia to support Operation Desert Shield, I got the word on the radio he had been killed in a helicopter crash in Wisconsin.  He had one album with his brother Jimmie in the can [Family Style] a copy of which Carol sent to me when I was in the desert.  I played the hell out of it and In Step when I was in the sandbox.

SRV’s Heroes.  Albert King, Buddy Guy, Lonnie Mack, Albert Collins, big brother Jimmie Vaughan, Eric Clapton, BB King, Howlin’ Wolf, Hubert Sumlin, Muddy Waters, Freddie King, Kenny Burrell, Jimi Hendrix.

Hendrix.  Texas Flood was all about the blues.  In 1984 the follow-up, Couldn’t Stand the Weather, came out.  This album had a surprise – an astounding cover of Jimi Hendrix’s Voodoo Child [Slight Return].  Hendrix was [and still is] the gold standard for guitar players.  SRV had the stones to tackle Hendrix, and it didn’t suck.  Not only did it not suck, I’ll make a bold statement and say SRV’s version is as good as the original.  On Soul to Soul, SRV covered Hendrix again.  Actually, the song in question, Come On [Part III], was an Earl King song covered by Hendrix on Electric Ladyland.  SRV’s version has the same arrangement as Hendrix, and SRV’s version is better than Hendrix’s.   On the posthumous release The Sky Is Crying, there is a version of Little Wing that SRV recorded during the Couldn’t Stand the Weather sessions.  The expanded Soul to Soul has a live version of Little Wing coupled with Third Stone From the Sun.  Where Jimi Hendrix was concerned, SRV was most definitely “dialed in.”

Take the Voodoo Child [Slight Return] taste challenge…

Voodoo Child [Slight Return] – SRV & Double Trouble

Voodoo Child [Slight Return] - The Jimi Hendrix Experience

Lonnie Mack.  SRV once said that Lonnie Mack’s Wham! was the first record he ever owned.  A wonderful version of the song Wham! can be found on The Sky Is Crying.  Scuttle Buttin’, which is the lead track from Couldn’t Stand the Weather, is SRV’s instrumental homage to Lonnie Mack’s Chicken Pickin’.  SRV produced Lonnie Mack’s 1985 blues-rock comeback for Alligator Records, Strike Like Lightning.  It was Lonnie Mack’s first album in seven years. Not only does SRV produce, he also plays second guitar throughout the album.  For getting Lonnie Mack back into a recording studio, that fact alone should get SRV enshrined in some kind of Hall of Fame.

Live at Carnegie Hall.  This is another posthumous release.  Unlike most things released after a musician’s death, this one did not scream “cash in.”  This live document could easily have been released during SRV’s lifetime.  It is a much better live album than Live Alive.  The concert was recorded at Carnegie Hall on October 4th, 1984 – the day after SRV turned 30.  The show was a benefit for the T.J Martell Foundation that funds medical research focused on finding cures for leukemia, cancer, and AIDS.  In addition to SRV and his band Double Trouble, other musicians played as well, including Dr. John, Jimmie Vaughan, Angela Strehli, and the Roomful of Blues horns.  These were no mere guest appearances – the additional musicians augmented SRV & Double Trouble throughout most of the set.  The set included songs from Texas Flood and Couldn’t Stand the Weather, but there were some songs in the set that SRV hadn’t recorded.  I can think of only one adjective to describe the show – blistering.  It’s one of the best live CDs I own.

The set:
Scuttle Buttin’ / Testifyin’ / Love Struck Baby / Honey bee / Cold Shot / Letter to My Girlfriend / Dirty Pool / Pride and Joy / The Things That I Used to Do / C.O.D. / Iced Over / Lenny / Rude Mood

Songs recorded for [but not included on the CD]: Voodoo Child [Slight Return], The Sky Is Crying.  They later appeared on the SRV box set.

Life By the Drop.   Sometimes the quietest thing can make the biggest statement.  SRV didn’t play the acoustic guitar much.  For Life By the Drop, SRV played an acoustic 12-string guitar.  Written by songwriting partner Doyle Bramhall, it’s about the friendship between two recovering addicts [Bramhall and SRV].  Recorded after completion of the In Step album for some future release, Life By the Drop is the last song on The Sky Is Crying.  Of all the songs in SRV’s catalog, this one has perhaps the most emotional impact on any listener.

Life By the Drop

The gear:
SRV’s main guitar was a beat-up ’62 Stratocaster he called ‘Number One.”  He liked big necks on his guitars.  Fender made necks in terms of size A, B, C, and D, D being the biggest.  SRV had “D” necks with jumbo Gibson frets.  Some used to say the frets were bass frets, but according to his guitar tech Rene Martinez that wasn’t the case.  With the big necks, SRV also liked to used heavy strings.  The string gauges from high to low were .013, .015, .019, .028, .038, and .058.  His strings had high action and tuned down half a step, and given how heavy they were he must have had superhuman strength in those hands to do the stringbendng he liked to do.  “Lenny” was a brown-stain ’65 Strat that SRV found in an Austin pawn shop.  Not only would SRV record his instrumental “Lenny” [song and guitar named for his wife] for Texas Flood, he also used the instrument to record my favorite SRV instrumental, Riviera Paradise [from In Step]. If you want a ‘Lenny’ replica, be prepared to part with $13,500.  He had a ’62 Strat which he called ‘Red,” a single pickup yellow Strat, and a white Strat with lipstick pickups [like you’d find on a Danelectro] that was modified by luthier Charlie Wirz, for whom SRV wrote Life Without You for Soul to Soul.  If he played anything other than a Stratocaster, I never saw it.

For amps, two Fender Super Reverbs; a 150-watt Dumble Steel String Singer with a 4x12 Dumble bottom; a 250-watt Marshall Major head with a 4x12 Dumble bottom; a Fender Vibroverb with one 15” speaker that was used to power a Leslie-type Fender Vibrophone with a rotating speaker.

For pedals, he used vintage ‘60s wah-wahs, a vintage Dallas-Arbiter Fuzz Face, a ‘60s Tycobrahe Octavia, and Ibanez Tube Screamers.

His playing:
I can describe his playing in one word – intense.  Not only intense, but LOUD.  He did the multi-step bends Albert King; the jazzy leanings of Kenny Burrell, and the chord-melodies of Hendrix.  That’s quite a musical stew.  Of SRV’s last performance, Eric Clapton had this to say – “Stevie Ray had been sober for three years and was at his peak. When he played that night, he had all of us standing there with our jaws dropped. I mean, Robert Cray and Jimmie Vaughan and Buddy Guy were just watching in awe. There was no one better than him on this planet. Really unbelievable…”

The iPod list:

Texas Flood
Love Struck Baby / Pride and Joy / Texas Flood / Testify / Rude Mood / Mary Had a Little Lamb / Dirty Pool / Lenny

Couldn’t Stand the Weather
Scuttle Buttin’ / Couldn’t Stand the Weather / The Things That I Used to Do / Voodoo Child [Slight Return] / Cold Shot

Soul to Soul
Say What! / Lookin’ Out the Window / Look at Little Sister / Ain’t Gone ‘n’ Give Up on Love / Change It / Come On [Part III] / Life Without You / Little Wing-Third Stone From the Sun

Live Alive
Superstition / Willie the Wimp

In Step
The House Is Rockin’ / Crossfire / Tightrope / Let Me Love You Baby / Leave My Girl Alone / Travis Walk / Wall of Denial / Scratch-n-Sniff / Riviera Paradise

Family Style
Hard to Be / Hillbillies From Outerspace / Long Way From Home / Telephone Song

The Sky Is Crying
Boot Hill / The Sky Is Crying / Little Wing / Wham! / May I Have a Talk With You / Life By the Drop

SRV [Box Set]
If You Have To Know / I'm Leavin' You (Commit A Crime) (Live) / Rude Mood/Pipeline (Live) / The Sky Is Crying (Live) / Voodoo Chile (Slight Return) (Live) / Crossfire (Live)

Live at Carnegie Hall – the whole thing!

Stevie Ray Vaughan was great.  I try to visit him whenever I’m in Dallas.  I still miss him…