Jimmie Vaughan owns the distinction of being the most underrated guitarist in rock history. A master of the electric guitar, Vaughan was overshadowed in popularity by his younger brother Stevie Ray Vaughan until Stevie Ray's death; but Stevie always pointed to his brother as his greatest inspiration and acknowledged him as the superior player.
From Muddy Waters to Eric Clapton, the masters of guitar have recognized Vaughan's greatness. As a member of the Fabulous Thunderbirds, Vaughan scored hits and toured the world. He left that band to form an outstanding group with Stevie Ray, the Vaughan Brothers. They made the epochal "Family Style" album together, but Stevie died in a helicopter crash in August 1990, weeks before the album was scheduled to be released.
Jimmie spent the rest of the 1990s slowly rebuilding his life, recording a pair of solo albums and supervising the unreleased archives of his brother's music.
"Do You Get the Blues?" is Vaughan's third solo outing, a terrific distillation of the blues and roots rock styles that are the foundation of his life's work. Vaughan chose a lineup of all-stars drawn from the Austin music scene to accompany him, including vocalist LouAnn Barton, drummer George Rains and Hammond B3 organ player Bill Willis.
The record is assured, mature blues, the sound of life having been lived, the work of a master who knows the exact value of the material he's working with.
Vaughan's vocal exchanges with Barton highlight the set.
"She's hot," said Vaughan. "We've been having some good times. I play with her a lot in Austin. I'll go down and play with her when she's at Antone's or she'll come down and play on my gigs. We've done this since the T Birds -- she was actually in the original T Birds."
The highlight of Barton's collaboration with Vaughan is a previously unreleased Johnny "Guitar" Watson slow burner, "In the Middle of the Night."
"He never released that song," said Vaughan. "I found it on a Japanese import of his modern recordings his early guitar songs, and they had thrown on a couple of demos and 'In the Middle of the Night' was one of them, just him on the piano. So I wrote another verse and called up LouAnn and we cut that with Double Trouble. That led to 'Power of Love,' that sort of style, just straight blues really, like a radio blues. I want to make a whole album with LouAnn."
One of the songs on the album, "Without You," was written by Vaughan's son Tyrone.
"He's written a lot of songs, 50 or 60, in kind of a soul bag," said Vaughan. "I told him to bring me some songs for the album, so he made a demo, just him and the guitar, real pure, and I heard 'Without You' and thought that fits my record. We came up with our own little version of it."
"Do You Get the Blues?" is a relaxed, yet seriously intense blues session.
"It was the first time I produced it myself and just did what I thought," said Vaughan. "I mixed it really dry, basically my effects were my miking techniques except for the few times I used echo. It's like I've got a soup and I'm boiling it down, throw all the rest out and what do we have here? With a lot of music that's out there it's just like you're getting repulsed and offended and I keep going back to Thelonious Monk and Gene Ammons and Lightnin' Hopkins and Segovia. To me music is 100 percent for enjoyment and nobody can tell you what to like or what to play.
"We didn't rehearse the stuff, and I didn't tell them what songs they were, we just went through them a couple of times and cut them. We picked the best one and then I would add another vocal and mix it.
"I wanna feel good when I hear something. It can be intense but relaxed at the same time. You hear a lot of stuff and it sounds like they're nervous or they took too much crack or something. It's a jerky and hard, I don't want that ... I think the blues is really happy and about facing stuff and getting over it and dealing with it. Getting on with life and enjoying yourself.
"I feel good about this record," Vaughan said. "We worked hard on it and it was successful because it sounds like we made it in a couple of days in the garage."