The Top Ten North Texas Blues Albums
See also: The best Texas songs of all time, #79-60
Alex Moore, Alex Moore
Barrelhouse pianist "Whistling" Alex Moore spent all of his life in Dallas, recording for Columbia in 1929, Decca in 1937, and RPM/Kent in 1951. During the '60s blues revival, he toured the festival circuit in the U.S. and Europe, after recording this 1960 album for Arhoolie. Unlike some of his contemporaries who returned from obscurity around the same time, Moore's ivory tinkling, singing and whistling capabilities were undiminished, and the late Tim Schuller, who interviewed him in the '70s, recalled him as an eccentric and colorful storyteller. While he recorded only twice more before his death in 1989, Moore continued performing until the end. We should all be so lucky.
Robert Ealey and the Five Careless Lovers, Live At the New Bluebird Nightclub
In 1978, I first set foot in Fort Worth's New Bluebird Nightclub, where proprietor-singer Robert Ealey held forth for an audience of Lake Como neighbors, hippies, punks, soul-patch-and-sunglasses-wearing blues freaks, and TCU frat/sorority kids and their parents. Ealey wasn't the world's greatest singer, but he presided over a scene that formed the consciousness of two or three generations of Fort Worth music fans. It's all here on this 1973 live document, produced by T-Bone Burnett, that's now rare as hen's teeth, but served as the recording debut of future Fabulous Thunderbirds/Leroi Brothers drummer Mike Buck, as well as Fort Worth's master of T-Bone Walker guitar style, Sumter Bruton.
Jim Colegrove, Panther City Blues
Colegrove started out in Ohio, the secret music capital of America, where he led Teddy & the Rough Riders from 1958 to 1965. He did sessions in New York for ex-Cream producer Felix Pappalardi and hung out in Woodstock before meeting Stephen Bruton and moving to Fort Worth, where he formed the Juke Jumpers with Bruton's younger brother, Sumter. The Juke Jumpers' music was a melange of jump blues, rockabilly, Louisiana swamp pop and whatever else interested the principals, with Colegrove's Levon Helm-esque vocals out front. They recorded and toured extensively through the '80s and continue reuniting annually, but they were never better than on this '79 debut.
Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble, Couldn't Stand the Weather
This is the bit I've been dreading. Sure, his musical tics and mannerisms have been recycled to death by lesser lights, from Kenny Wayne Shepherd to Los Lonely Boys, and perhaps his major impact came from introducing the blues to a generation of axe-slingers that teethed on Van Halen and Metallica. But nobody learned the lessons of Hendrix and Albert King better than this Oak Cliff native, who came into his own on this sophomore release. Even better were Austin bossman W.C. Clark's "Cold Shot" and the self-penned title track.
Fabulous Thunderbirds, Girls Go Wild
Vocalist/harpman Kim Wilson was really a Detroit-born Californian, and bassist Keith Ferguson a Houston native, but guitarist Jimmie Vaughan was Oak Cliff born and bred, and drummer Mike Buck a son of Fort Worth. While it might seem commonplace now, at the end of the '70s, the Thunderbirds represented a sea change in white blues. Mentored by Clifford Antone, they stripped away all the '60s rock trappings from the blues, even though Vaughan had inherited Hendrix's wah-wah pedal when his band opened for the Experience in '69. The T-Birds hit the stage in gassed-back hair and baggy suits with open-collared shirts, and on tracks like Slim Harpo's "Scratch My Back" and Jerry McCain's "She's Tuff," they dispensed with all that was inessential and delivered the pure goods. After them, the deluge.