The Rocks Off 200

The Rocks Off 200: Tony Vega, the Big Easy's Barnburner

Welcome to The Rocks Off 200, our portrait gallery of the most compelling profiles and personalities in the far-flung Houston music community -- a lot more than just musicians, but of course they're in there too. See the original Rocks Off 100 at this link.

A guitar-playing older brother with a good record collection sparked Tony Vega, leader of the Tony Vega Band, to pick up a guitar at age 13. A few years later, a chance meeting with Albert Collins at the Heart of Texas Music Festival in Austin cemented his love of the blues. "Immediately after [I met him, I] bought my first blues record -- Albert Collins Live in Japan," Vega says. "It's been all blues ever since."

Vega, a winner of multiple Houston Press Music Awards, founded the Tony Vega Band in 1997. Multiple personnel changes have led to its current trio configuration with Larry "Lownote" Johnson on bass and Jeremy Pierce on drums while Vega handles guitar and singing duties.

With several successful European tours and a handful of CDs to his credit, Vega recorded his latest release, a live album called Shakin' at The Easy, last spring at The Big Easy Social & Pleasure Club, one of the last of the remaining blues venues in the Houston area and his band's home turf. The new disc gets its official release with a party at the club this Saturday night.

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Olivia Flores Alvarez