Seth Walker should be no stranger to Houston audiences from his many years as one of Austin's hardest-gigging musicians, whose relaxed but precise take on white-man's blues has built an impressive following in this part of the world. (The similarities between him and John Mayer are undeniable, but Walker is much better behaved.)
Last year he relocated to New Orleans after a spell in Nashville and, with Oliver Wood of the Wood Brothers producing, cut Sky Still Blue, a stylish collection of new songs that seamlessly weaves the Crescent City's innate funkiness into Walker's well-appointed cocktail-lounge R&B. We were looking for a different way to give his gig at the Mucky Duck tonight some love, so we convinced Walker to send us his ten favorite Lone Star blues songs for a Texas twist on Throwback Thursday.
Pay attention -- this guy knows his stuff.
10. "I Gotta Break, Baby" T-Bone Walker
This was the T-bone tune that turned the light on for me. His rhythmic, swinging, dancing single-note stylings pierced my soul. It turned me upside down and he is still the biggest influence on my guitar playing.
His vocals on that track also influenced me tremendously, as he sang jazz notes that had me leaning my ear a little closer to the stereo with every verse. He was uptown and low-down.
9. "Charlie James," Mance Lipscomb
This song haunted me with the pulsing thump of his thumb on his perfectly out-of-tune guitar. I try to emulate Mance on a nightly basis!
8. "Love Her With a Feeling," Freddie King
This song kills. The plea of his vocal and desperate tone of that Gibson guitar is second to none.
7. Lightnin' Hopkins "Lightnin's Blues"
Lightnin' changes when Lightnin' wants to change. This track is what acoustic blues is all about.
6. "Okie Dokie Stomp," Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown
One of the most influential guitar jump-blues tunes in the book. His finger style picking influenced me heavily. You can't not quote Gatemouth licks when you swing the blues. A must-listen.
5. "Texas Hop," Pee Wee Crayton
Another instrumental Texas jump-blues classic. Listen to how raw his guitar tone was. No polish in this program.
List continues on the next page.
4. Albert Collins, "Don't Lose Your Cool"
The Iceman had his own style on that Telecaster: a mysterious tuning, a capo and a stabbing flurry of notes. This was one of the first tunes I covered when I moved to Austin.
3. "Change My Luck Blues," Blind Lemon Jefferson
One of the most influential Texas bluesmen. He made the guitar sound like a damn piano -- "Change My Luck" is a rhythmic, moaning plea of a track.
2. "Full Time Lover," Fabulous Thunderbirds
Jimmie Vaughan is a snake around the beat and the consummate modern Texas bluesman. His command of time is magic. When Jimmie plays, everything is suspended and then the notes start drop out of nowhere. He is a damn magician.
1. "Texas Flood," Stevie Ray Vaughan
Stevie is the reason I got into this beautiful madness. This slow blues single-handedly taught me how to feel music through my guitar. Stevie was an open channel of soul, and I learned so much by listening to "Texas Flood" over and over and over and over again. His live version on Live at the El Mocambo will send you flying. Impossibly great.
Seth Walker performs at 9:30 p.m. tonight at McGonigel's Mucky Duck, 2425 Norfolk. Bonnie Bishop takes the early spot at 7 p.m.
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