US GP Top Tracks

Five tracks from five artists for the US Grand Prix that all have Austin at their core. Either they hail from the city, have lived there at once stage in their career, or have recorded, played and been inspired by one of the musical epicentres of the world. To take a walk around Austin at night is to open ones ears to the delights and joy of live music. Pouring on to the streets from the bars and clubs each and every day I’ve personally witnessed a man with a dodgy comb over and garish golden jacket playing some of the bitterest blues, to the lady with the acoustic guitar and angelic voice. The violence and energy of Slayer and the rock ’n’ roll party that was Aerosmith, this city has got it all and you can hear it every day of the week.

Stevie Ray Vaughan - Texas Flood

It’s 25 years now since we lost one of the greatest blues guitarists ever to walk the earth. A quarter of a century since that helicopter crash that ended Stevie Ray Vaughan’s life at the age of 35. He was an Austin resident, there’s a statue of him in the city now and this track was recorded, along with the rest of his debut album across two days in Austin in 1983. Quite simply, no Austin playlist is complete without Stevie Ray Vaughan and this re-working of an old Larry Davis blues number is, I believe, one of his very very best.

Gary Clark Jnr - The Healing

Picking up the mantel from the likes of Stevie Ray Vaughan, Gary Clark Jnr is blazing a trail for modern day blues artists throughout the world. Another resident of Austin, his blues, jazz, soul, country and hip hop influences are all evident in his latest release ‘The Story Of Sunny Boy Slim’ from which this track is taken. 

The Courtyard Hounds -  See You In The Spring

Okay, it’s confession time. There are occasions when I quite like to stick on a bit of country. And there are times when I’ll gladly listen to The Dixie Chicks. It might not be cool, but quite frankly I don’t care :))) The Courtyard Hounds are a side project for Martie Maguire and Emily Robison, who of course, along with Natalie Maines, make up The Dixie Chicks and first performed in public at Austin’s SXSW Festival in 2010. This track was from their debut album and features Bob Dylan’s son Jakob on vocals. It is, just beautiful in every way and I absolutely adore it. How’s that for confession time then :)))

The Wild Feathers - Hard Times

Another bunch that hail from Austin although they’re based now in Nashville and a group that I stumbled upon whilst whiling away a few hours in Austin’s Waterloo Records, without doubt my favourite record store on the planet and worth making a pilgrimage too if you happen to be in town. Their unique style owes much to the fact that all members of the band share vocals. You’d think that they’ve been around forever such is the vintage nature of their music, but that’s not the case. A new album is on the way apparently, and not before time, but this track from their superb debut release will do nicely in the meantime. 

Ryan Adams - Shake It Off

Echoes of Springsteen’s ‘I’m On Fire’ ring loudly throughout this re-working of Taylor Swift’s monster hit. Taken from 1989, not the Swift original but the Adams cover. Yes the whole album, and boy does he do justice to the angst and heartache that lie behind many of the upbeat melodies and poppy, feel good, sing-a-long style. Here, where Swift states that she’s going to ‘Shake It Off’ almost as an act of defiance to yet another relationship that hasn’t worked out, Adams rather mumbles the message, almost as if he’s trying his hardest to insist that he can move on, but in reality, not really believing that he can.

It really is a terrific listen, as is the whole album, and it doesn’t surprise me that Swift herself loves the treatment that Adams has handed out.