Saturday, June 20, 2009

DVD Review - Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble - 'Live at the El Mocambo'

Stevie Ray Vaughan playing his customized Stra...Image via Wikipedia

DVD Review - Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble - 'Live at the El Mocambo' by Greg Bahr

In 1983, Stratocaster slinger Stevie Ray Vaughan and his posse, bassist Tommy Shannon and drummer Chris "Whipper" Layton, rode into the El Mocambo Tavern in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, and flooded the Great White North audience with a sonic wave of boogie and blues born deep in the heart of the Texas.

"Testify" and "So Excited" start off the proceedings with a shot of high energy instrumental brilliance, followed by "Voodoo Chile (Slight Return)," Vaughan's tribute to his mentor, Jimi Hendrix. Stevie sings "I got my voodoo right in my hands," before tearing into a solo that proves him to be a worthy successor to Jimi's throne.

Next up is "Pride and Joy," the song that put Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble on the map. Combining a walking bass line on the lower strings and chords on the higher strings, Vaughan creates the effect of two guitarists playing at once, as Layton lays down the shuffle beat and Shannon's Fender bass adds precision counterpoint.

With readings of Howlin' Wolf's "Tell Me" and Buddy Guy's "Mary Had a Little Lamb," Vaughan recites the lessons of the masters while lending his own phrases to the blues lexicon.

The centerpiece of the set is "Texas Flood," a slow twelve-bar blues reminiscent of Albert King's "Blues Power." Playing the Strat behind his back, Stevie Ray unleashes an unrelenting torrent of guitar fury that strikes the audience like a Lone Star State lightning storm.

The band shifts into high gear with "Love Struck Baby," an original Chuck Berry style rocker, and "Hug You Squeeze You," a John Lee Hooker boogie blues classic.

Another Jimi Hendrix tune, "Third Stone From the Sun," serves as a vehicle for Vaughan's dramatic stage theatrics. Shannon's driving bass groove and Layton's rolling drumbeat provide a launching pad as Stevie Ray spins the guitar around the stage, manically manipulating the whammy bar, volume, and tone controls to navigate a feedback fueled orbit through the solar system.

The frenetic pace cools down with "Lenny," a ballad named after Stevie Ray's wife, in which he deftly employs the Strat's five position pickup selector to maneuver through a myriad of jazzy, textured tones.

Closing the show with Lonnie Mack's "Wham!," Vaughan sends one last blast from his Stratocaster through the appreciative Canadian crowd. After the smoke cleared, Stevie Ray Vaughan packed up his six string and rode off into the sunset.

Greg Bahr writes about the guitar and related topics. Read more at

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