It was 1989 and I was attending ‘Summer Rock Camp.’ This of course was way before Jack Black’s School Of Rock movie but you get the idea. It was a week away for a bunch of teenagers to learn how to play together in a rock & roll environment. It was my first foray into grasping how keyboards fit into the parameters of a band.
The instructors at the camp were the known guys in the local music scene. It felt cool to hang out with them and to gain some tidbits of their knowledge. In my eyes, for all intents and purposes they were rock stars. Many had the stereotypical look you’d expect from a musician of that era. It was leather jackets and long hair galore. One morning as we gathered together, the guitar instructor made a point to mention that we should all do ourselves a favor and try to get tickets for a concert that was coming to town later that week. Legendary blues/rock guitarist Stevie Ray Vaughan was going to be playing live in Halifax, Nova Scotia. He stressed how this guitarist played with incredible feel and it would be something none of us would want to miss.
Stevie Ray’s new album In Step (which turned out to be his last) had just been released that June. Anyone who knows me, is well aware that nowadays when I’m not playing shows one of my favorite things to do is to attend a concert. But for whatever reason, I dismissed the mention of the show at that time. It was, after all the ‘guitar guy’ bringing this up and I thought he’s probably directing this more toward all the loud guitar players in attendance.
Within a few years, I was all about blues rock music. In fact, some of my first bands in the early 90s I was a hired gun, playing keys for blues rock guitar players. I was introduced to the old pioneers of the genre and to Stevie Ray Vaughn who had elevated the appeal of blues music to the masses during the 80s. There was no one more iconic or deemed better than SRV. If you know anything about music history you’re aware that he tragically lost his life in the summer of 1990 in a helicopter crash.
I’d go on to become very familiar with Stevie Ray Vaughn and Double Trouble’s catalog of music. I had the cassettes, CDs, I wore out a VHS tape of a live concert from Austin City Limits. Keyboardist, Reese Wynans had turned the trio into a quartet by 1985. I’d rewind “The House Is Rockin’,” the first song on In Step, over and over until I learned the piano solo. (Side note, it’s not a difficult solo, but it’s a fun one to play).
I had missed the opportunity to catch SRV live but his music and artistry still mean a lot to me to this day. In the photo above I’m in Austin, TX standing next to the statue which commemorates his life and music.
In the resurgence of vinyl, I picked up the LP, “The Sky Is Crying.” On it, Stevie plays what is probably my favorite version of the Jimi Hendrix classic, “Little Wing.”
I had fun recording my cover version of the song with some of my talented friends and I played a couple of piano solos throughout. Would you be willing to watch the video below?
Are there any artists you regret not seeing live when you had the chance? Let me know in the comments. And feel free to let me know what you’ve thought of the music you’ve heard so far or just say hello!