The combination of a standing room only crowd and Jimmie Vaughan's Tilt-a-Whirl Band made for a rockin' good time at the Tralf on Wednesday night. The area directly in front of the stage was packed with vociferous acolytes cheering every riff that the guitarist slung out.
Old favorites were the order of the day, but there was enough material heard from his latest album "Do You Get the Blues?" to give his set a taste of currency. Newer cuts like "Out of the Shadows," "Let Me In," and "Slow Dance Blues" were hits with the crowd, but it seemed that "Motorhead Baby" and a take on Larry Davis' "Texas Flood" (the same tune that Jimmie's brother, Stevie Ray, used to play) generated the most response.
Well, at least until Vaughan introduced a guest singer, Lou Ann Barton. She can flat out sing, owning a rough-edged voice that seemed to cut through the mix with ease, and ripping it up on "Power of Love" and "Sugar Coated Love," songs from her small canon of recorded songs. Barton also sang backup on other songs, just as she does on Vaughan's new album.
The rest of the band was on top of it as well. Rhythm guitarist Billy Pittman got a chance to solo early on in the set while drummer George Rains was in the pocket all night long. There was no bassist per se as organist Bill Willis was able to cover that angle with his modified B-3, generating powerful bass lines that, with Rains' drumming, kept the band on a roll. Vaughan was also traveling with a pair of regular backup vocalists for this tour (Charlie Red and Greg Sain) although it didn't appear that he had a whole lot of arrangements tailored to use the duo.
The show's opening act was a trio from Minneapolis, the Keller Brothers Band. There is an assumption at this point that the group members were all over 21, but if I were a convenience store clerk and they wanted to pick up a six pack, I'd be checking their ID closely. Despite their apparent youth, the group powered through an opening set of riffs that held a lot of promise.
Much of the band's material featured guitar solos that were more interesting that the song structure they were grafted on to.
Still, this is a band to watch out for a few years down the line. Drummer Corey Keller kicks up a mighty powerful rhythm without getting overly flashy on cymbals and snares while Al Bergstrom, the band's new bassist, is simply amazing.
Wednesday at the Tralf.