Q & A: Jimmie Vaughan Talks Dallas vs. Austin, Bob Dylan and Ron Paul
Guitarist and songwriter Jimmie Vaughan was born and raised in Dallas. In the early 1960's, Jimmie, along with his brother, Stevie Ray, helped usher in one of the best eras of music in North Texas.
Although their father introduced the Vaughan brothers to country music, the two would soon find inspiration in such legendary blues artists as B.B. King and Johnny "Guitar" Watson. Jimmie Vaughan moved to Austin permanently in 1970, but his heart was never far from his hometown.
Even when his band, the Fabulous Thunderbirds, broke nationally in 1986, Jimmie Vaughan always made sure a Dallas stop was on most tours. Speaking from his home in Austin and in anticipation of his performance on Thursday at the Texas Theater, Vaughan was kind enough to talk to DC-9 about his teenage years in Dallas and his remarkable career in music.
You live in Austin, but you were born in Dallas. How long did you live here?
I lived there until I was 18. I've lived off and on all over the place, but most of my teenage life was spent in Dallas.
I know one of your highlight moments was opening for Jimi Hendrix in Fort Worth. Do you have other special moments associated with the area?
Well, when I grew up, I listened to country western music. My father used to play country music around the house. But I loved Dallas because music was everywhere. I also lived, for a time, in Jackson, Mississippi. My dad moved around a lot.
Austin has always had a reputation of having a better music scene than Dallas. Do you think so?
Dallas has always had a good music scene. I don't think Austin has a better reputation. When I was a kid, there was a lot of music happening in Dallas. Dallas has always had a huge music scene. I came to Austin in the mid '60s and just started playing anywhere I could. I moved here permanently in 1970. I played for free anywhere I could. I just kept playing, so I don't know if Austin has a better reputation than Dallas.
Were you surprised when the Fabulous Thunderbirds became popular in the mid '80s?
No, I wasn't surprised. We worked very hard and we were really into what we were doing. We worked hard at it every day. If you want to be successful in the music business, you have to work at it every day.
Do you still talk with [singer] Kim Wilson and the rest of those guys?
I see them sometimes. I talk to them quite a bit, but I run into them from time to time. I see them around, but they don't live in Austin.
Your first solo album [Strange Pleasure] didn't come out until 1994. Why wait so long to make a solo effort?
I didn't have a record deal prior to the Thunderbirds. I was in the Thunderbirds for 15 years, and I wasn't trying to make solo records. I was trying to make Thunderbirds records.
You've played with some legendary musicians, folks like Bo Diddley and B.B. King. Is there anyone else you'd like to play with?
Sure, if I am a big fan of someone, I like to go see them play and maybe get to play with them. It was never my goal to play with all of those people. It just happens over the years. You get to do shows together and you ask them to record with you and they ask you to record with them. That's just the way it works out. If you've been playing for a long time, it adds up. I can think of a million musicians that I really admire. I'm sure I could think of a list of people I would like to play with.
Even though the Thunderbirds achieved great success, are you still in awe when you get to play with blues legends?
Absolutely, but what happens is when you go on stage with one of your heroes, you're protection system comes up and you just play. It doesn't really hit you until after you go home. It hits you, but while you're on stage, you're just playing, enjoying being in the moment. Later on, you think, man, I was just playing with B.B. King or Eric Clapton.
When you did that 2006 tour opening up for Bob Dylan, did you talk with him a lot?
Yes, I talked to him every day. He seemed like a regular guy.
Not many folks have described Dylan as a regular guy.
Maybe regular is not the right term, but he was nice enough to me. We would hang out and talk motorcycles and music.
I understand that you are a big supporter of presidential candidate Ron Paul.
Yes, I am. He talks about freedom, and he likes the Constitution. He is for real money. All of the things he talks about are the things I want for my family and this country.
Why hasn't the Republican establishment embraced him or his ideas?
Because that's not what they want. They want the same as we got. That's what they want.
The polls [that show Mitt Romney leading] are all a bunch of malarkey. It seems that a different poll pops up every day. Clearly, whoever they want on top is on top. The only guy that has been steady with the message is Ron Paul. Let me put it to you this way: Ron Paul has been my president since the last election.
You have any opinions concerning Governor Perry?
I vote for Ron Paul.
Your last couple of albums have been the two volumes of Plays Blues, Ballads and Favorites. Could this series continue for a while?
I guess it could. I just had so much fun with the first one that I had to do another. I still enjoy recording those songs, but I still write tunes, too. Anything can happen. The songs are fun to play and a lot of people remember them. I've noticed that a lot of artists lately have gone back and recorded older songs. This is happening in all different types of music. You have Asleep at the Wheel doing Bob Wills' songs and then Rod Stewart singing the standards. I am just doing what I like. This is what my heart led me to do, musically speaking. I do it because I love it and it's fun.
Jimmy Vaughan performs on Thursday, November 10, at the Texas Theater.