Live from Carnegie Hall: Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble
The latest installment in our "Live from Carnegie Hall" blog series veers from classical greats to a blues-rock concert that tested the famed Carnegie Hall acoustic to the limit.
Album: Live at Carnegie Hall
Artists: Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble
Date Recorded: October 4, 1984
Fun Fact: The band wore velvet mariachi-style suits, tailor-made especially for their Carnegie Hall concert, from Nelda's Tailor, Austin, Texas.
Stevie Ray Vaughan had turned 30 the night before he and his band took the stage in Carnegie Hall for a concert where, according to The New York Times, there "were moments when the staid auditorium became a whistling, stomping roadhouse."
The three-piece Double Trouble—Vaughan on guitar, drummer Chris Layton, and bassist Tommy Shannon—had been together for just three years, and for the first and only time expanded the lineup to include a second drummer, vocalist, an organist, a five-piece brass section, and Vaughan's older brother, Jimmie, on rhythm guitar.
Although the Carnegie Hall acoustics were challenged by the volume of the amplified music, they were not beaten, with The Dallas Times Herald remarking that "it was on the slow, bluesy stuff that the Carnegie Hall sound really helped. You could hear Stevie bend every note in a way that's impossible in most rooms."
Despite the incongruity of a hard-driving, Southern blues-rock band playing there, there was a direct link to the rich history of Carnegie Hall. 74-year-old Epic A&R man, John Hammond, introduced Stevie Ray Vaughan on stage as "one of the great guitar players of all time;in 1938 and 1939, Hammond had organized the historic "Spirituals to Swing" concerts at the Hall, some of the first events featuring African American artists playing to an integrated audience.
The album was not released until 13 years later, seven years after Stevie Ray Vaughan's death in a helicopter crash.