Talking Story with Bluesman Jimmie Vaughan


The legendary blues guitarist, Jimmie Vaughan, is currently on tour supporting his latest release Baby, Please Come Home. He’ll be playing one Big Island show at the Kahilu Theatre in Waimea on Saturday, August 17, 2019, at 7 p.m. Ticket info below.

At the age of 14, Vaughan began his musical career when he ran away from home. In 1979, Vaughan gained fame with his band The Fabulous Thunderbirds with the release of their first album, Girls Go Wild. He performed with the band until 1990 when he released Family Style, the only album made with his brother, Stevie Ray Vaughan. He lost his brother to a fatal helicopter crash later that year. When Jimmie began his solo recording career four years later, he released the album Strange Pleasure, which featured “Six String Down,” a striking tribute to his brother.

The former Fabulous Thunderbirds axe-man has kept busy playing music in his hometown of Austin, Texas, often in a trio with Mike Flanigin on Hammond B3 organ and Jason Corbiere on drums. His razor-sharp licks and tough Texas sound prompted Fender guitars to produce a “Jimmie Vaughan Tex-Mex Stratocaster” for the four-time Grammy Award winner.

I caught up with Vaughan in Boston while on tour.

Will this be your first time playing on the Big Island and at the Kahilu Theatre?

No. No. We’ve played there many times.

Tell me about the band you’re bringing with you.

Well, it’s the band on my last record, but we’re just going to be a trio for the Hawaii shows. No horn section. It’s Mike Flanigin on Organ and Jason Corbiere on drums.

For the guitar gear-heads out there, what special guitars and pedals do you take with you on the road?

I only play my Jimmie Vaughan (Tex-Mex) Fender Stratocasterand a couple of Fender Bassman amps. That’s all I have. I have a tremolo. I’m not really a gear-head. (laughs)

Let’s talk about the new album, Baby, Please Come Home. On the recording you cover some of your favorites like Richard Berry, T-Bone Walker, and Etta James. While it has a modern feel, the mix has that retro ‘50s and ‘60s sound to it. Can you talk about that?

I enjoy recording and utilizing the room sound. I just like it to sound the way I have it in my head, which is… I don’t care about the so-called “modern techniques of recording,” which everything sounds dead. And then they put…  you know, putting a digital delay on it and everything is close mic’d. I don’t do that.So, it’s more of an older method of recording. I do what I like, and hopefully the people like it too.

I see that you included some of the original Roomful of Blues horn players to fatten out the sound on the record.

Yeah, that’s Doug James on sax and trombonist Randy Zimmerman.

One of our readers wanted to know about a Texas show you did in 1968, when you were in a band called The Chessmen and opened for Hendrix. Apparently, you loaned Jimi some gear.

From left: Doyle Bramhall, Johnny Peebles, Jimmie Vaughan and Tommy Carter

Well, it was a Saturday night, and  the music stores were closed, so he had broken his wah-wah pedal, and I had a brand new one. He said, ‘OK, I’ll give you 50 bucks and this old broken wah-wah pedal if you’ll give me that one, and you can go get a new one on Monday.’ That’s the true story. There’s a legendary story out there, that I keep hearing about, how I played so good that he wanted to give me his pedal, but it’s not really true. It was more logistics. We got to open for Hendrix, and I was only 15! It was fantastic!

I saw a video clip of your son Tyrone. He’s very talented and following in your footsteps.

He likes to play guitar and write songs. He’s a very good songwriter, and, you know, he’s out there pounding the pavement too. So, we’ll see.

What does the rest of the year look like for you? Are you working on any new material, or have any other tours planned?

I’ve just come out with this Baby, Please Come Home album and we’re really working that. I’m always thinking about my next move, but right now, I’m just out playing with my band, and having a great time. We’ll be on tour the rest of the year.

Is there anything else you’d like to add before we go?

Just that I’m a big fan of Hawaiian music. I took steel guitar lessons and love all of that authentic stuff from the ‘40s and ‘50s. Every time I come to Oahu I go to Harry’s Music Store in Honolulu. I used to take guitar lessons there from Jerry Byrd.

I’ve always been a big fan of the Big Island, all the islands… I love Hawaii!

Any chance you might include a Hawaiian song in your set?

Well, I’ll start working on it.

Aloha, and thanks for your time, Jimmie. We look forward to seeing you on August 17 at the Kahilu Theatre.

Thank you very much!

If you go… Have a good show!

The Jimmie Vaughan Trio will perform at the Kahilu Theatre on Saturday, August 17, 2019 at 7 PM. Tickets are $65/$45/$25 and can be purchased at, (808) 885-6868, or at the Kahilu Theatre Box Office located at 67-1186 Lindsey Road, in Waimea. Tickets are limited!

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Steve Roby is a music journalist, best-selling author, and originally from San Francisco. He’s been featured in the NY Times, Rolling Stone, and Billboard Magazine. Roby is also the Managing Editor of Big Island Music Magazine.

Photo credit: Mary Andrews.


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