STEVIE RAY VAUGHAN
(SRV Birthday Bash)
Original Edition (1982)
Antone’s
Oct 1 - 2, 1982
17” X 11” (43.18cm X 27.94cm)


One of my best pieces; a personal favorite. When I saw the photograph, the poster bloomed full-blown in my mind. Sometimes it happens that way. The picture was a publicity still put out by Rock Arts Ltd., and its owner, Mr. Chesley Milllikin. Sure enough, as I had been told, in the Northeast corner was the logo I had created for an SRV/Double Trouble gig at Steamboat a year earlier, expertly stolen without so much as a by-your-leave. But that’s another story.

It was the usual 11”X17” 2-color gig, but I wanted to make it special. It would be a full year before Stevie would release Texas Flood, but something was in the air. First I turned the poster on its side, making it 17”X11”, and I experimented with the color overlay – opting out of the traditional black-trapped spot color in favor of a half-toned background of angry storm clouds. It would be tricky as I would have to render it on a matted-acetate overlay with a black oil-crayon. All came out well though, with the resulting image of a determined SRV, Strat behind his back, receiving the storm’s energy and losing it through the polarity of his fingers back into the guitar. Here it becomes the lightning within the storm that is the guitar itself. Circling around his head it streaks toward dissipation in his other hand, while a second charge seeks his heart, the seat of the soul. Almost as an afterthought, another bolt spikes away, in search of a ground.

  

The summer of 1982 was a particularly brutal one in Austin. The Autumnal Equinox had come and gone but the heat endured. On the first night of this weekend birthday show, a massive line of thunderstorms was rolling in from the west. Stevie took to the stage somewhere around 10:30 to an overflow crowd at Antone’s new location near the University of Texas. Just as he began the lead-in to Texas Flood the vast squall-line broke upon the city, and as if on cue lightning flashed all about the former Shakey’s location that was now the club’s third incarnation. What unfolded that night was probably the best performance that I have seen him do; Montreaux was behind him and fame just ahead, but for now he still belonged to Austin - and that night he made us all proud. His hands flickered over the Stratocaster like a flame and he was in total control of the music – one moment far ahead and beckoning it on, the next shouldering hard against it while pushing it forward – all the while with Double Trouble in lock-step. Chris Layton was spinning a drum beat, attempting to contain the torque of sound within its weave as Reese Wynans pushed the keyboards into chasing SRV’s riffs around the room. Tommy Shannon, never leaving his spot, kept the whole thing grounded through the power of a massive base line. The joint was jumping while outside a genuine Texas flood shattered summer’s grip. I had been prescient in theming this poster, and was told so later by Stevie himself.

On his 28th birthday Stevie stood poised between two worlds – that which he had always known and the one that lay just ahead, where his talent and power would bring him world renown. In between was Austin. He had followed his brother, Jimmie Vaughan down to the capitol of Texas in the winter of 1971. Through him, he became acquainted with the musicians here – specifically blues musicians. Denny Freeman, Doyle Bramhall, Derek O’Brien and Paul Ray, he had known in and around Dallas for years; soon he would meet W.C. Clark, Bill Campbell, Angela Strehli, Jesse 'Guitar' Taylor and other musical refugees from across the state. He was plugged in almost immediately, networking and forming musical alliances in what was then a sort of blues underground existing in the shadows beyond the glaring lights of the “Cosmic Cowboy” scene that generally identified the Austin music scene in those days. He joined with his homies, Paul Ray and Denny Freeman in an early incarnation of the Cobras. By the time Antone’s opened with Clifton Chenier in July of 1975, Stevie was primed for the blues school that would form there.

Of all the times that Stevie played Antone’s, this is the only promotional poster that I have done. Fourteen years later, I would have the privilege of putting him on the 21st Anniversary poster - more than half a decade after his death. Aside from a bill I did for a gig at Steamboat in 1981, these are the only posters that I ever did of him. I wish that weren’t true because Stevie Ray Vaughan was the essence of what Antone’s was all about, and taking liberty to expand the scope of that statement, he was what Austin music itself was all about in the 1970s.


What is the difference between the Original Edition (shown on this page) and First Edition version?

Well the color, for one.


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