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Bonafied Blues Master

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Jimmie Vaughan
Seafood, Blues and Jazz Festival
Sat.-Sun. October 8-9
Ft. Fisher Military Recreation Area
118 Riverfront Rd., Kure Beach
$15-30 •

The blues genre is, in itself, legendary. Like a hall of fame, it is a style of music that is home to a multitude of talented artists. Of the ilk is Jimmie Vaughan, a guitarist who spawned a revival of the blues in the early ‘90s through his sweet slides and rockin’ riffs. The older brother and mentor of the equally skillful Stevie Ray, Vaughan is a man who finds solace in his craft and will affect generations of musicians for decades to come.

Vaughan received his first guitar at the age of 13, when he suffered a football injury and a family friend gifted him the instrument to play during his recovery. Growing up in Oak Cliff, Texas, just south of Dallas, he savored the Top 40 hits on the radio as well as older blues and early rock ‘n’ roll. Within two years, he formed his first band, The Swinging Pendulums, and the group frequented downtown Dallas venues. At 16, Vaughan joined The Chessman, a band which opened for Jimi Hendrix. Eventually he became a member of the group Texas Storm, furthering his own career and catapulting that of his younger brother’s, the band’s bass player.

While opening concerts for rockstars before he was old enough to even vote or drink, Vaughan discovered and fell in love with the music of blues masters Muddy Waters and Freddie King. He was deeply rooted in the genre from then on.

In the ‘70s, he started The Fabulous Thunderbirds, a group that went on to share the stage with Waters, Buddy Guy and B.B. King. “One time when we were opening for Muddy,” Vaughan remembers, as reported on his website (he did not respond to encore interview requests). “I thought, OK, I’m going to do this Muddy Waters-style slide thing and see if I can get a reaction from him. And the next night I did it again. He came out behind me, grabbed me around the neck and said he liked it. And he told me, ‘When I’m gone, I want you to do that, and show everybody that’s what I did. I want you to do it for me.’”

The Fabulous Thunderbirds went on to record eight albums, including the platinum “Tuff Enuff.” The group garnered two Grammy nominations, and by the end of the 1980s, Vaughan’s iconic look of slicked back hair and solemn face was as famous as their singles. Still, he isn’t the type to forget where he came from. In 1990 he recorded the album “Family Style” with Stevie Ray, but in August, just a few weeks before the release of the record, Stevie Ray perished in a helicopter crash in Wisconsin.

Vaughan stopped recording and touring. He left The Fabulous Thunderbirds altogether. The only thing he did keep up with is playing guitar every single day.

Three years later, Eric Clapton invited Vaughan to open a 16-concert series at Royal Albert Hall in London. The feeling of performing live again, a dynamic that he had not felt in so long, was what pushed Vaughan to record his first solo album, “Strange Pleasure.” It debuted at number one on the Billboard Heatseeker Chart and earned a Grammy nomination for Best Blues Album. His 1998 sophomore solo record, “Out There,” saw another nomination for Best Rock Instrumental Performance for the song “Ironic Twist.” In 2001, “Do You Get The Blues?” was nominated for Best Traditional Blues Album.

Now in 2011 with two more albums out, Jimmie Vaughan will headline the Seafood, Blues and Jazz Festival in Kure Beach on Saturday, October 8th at 8 p.m. Vaughan will be joined by the Tilt-A-Whirl Band, featuring songstress Lou Ann Barton and rounded out with drums, bass, rhythm guitar, tenor saxophone and two baritone saxophones.

Held at the Fort Fisher Military Recreation Area, the festival runs through Sunday, October 9th, showcasing 16 bands between the blues and jazz stages. Acts include El Jaye Johnson and the Port City Allstars, The Willie Painter Band and, fittingly, the Stevie Ray Vaughan Tribute.

Of course, what is a seafood festival without great eats? Fresh and local shrimp, fish and the like will be prepared on-site for attendees to enjoy along with the music. For the tots there will be a free kids’ zone, and for grown-ups, an art and wine garden offering tastings. A craft exhibition will also take place, including works like that of Southern Digital Art which produces large canvas prints of photographs of Pleasure Island, Wilmington and surrounding area.

Tickets for the event are $30 for Saturday, $15 for Sunday or $15 for both in advance, available on or by calling the Pleasure Island Chamber of Commerce at 458-8434. Children 12 and under are free. Gates open each day at 11 a.m. Coolers and pets are not allowed. The recreation area is located at 118 Riverfront Road in Kure Beach. More information about the festival is available at

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Encore Magazine regularly covers topics pertaining to news, arts, entertainment, food, and city life in Wilmington. It also maintains schedules and listings of local events like concerts, festivals, live performance art and think-tank events. Encore Magazine is an entity of H&P Media, which also powers Wilmington’s local ticketing platform, Print and online editions are updated every Wednesday.

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