Austin, Tex., is turning out fine R&B bands the way Houston used to turn out great R&B records. In the '50s Houston was home to two prominent record labels and artists like Gatemouth Brown, Bobby Blue Bland and Johnny Ace. Now, 25 years later. Austin is the center of R&B activity, a haven for a number of bands which have visited D.C. recently.
The latest arrival is Double Trouble, who appeared last night at Desperado's as guests of the Nighthawks, who also performed. Early during the opening set, lead guitarist Stevie Vaughan revived a venerable Texas tradition -- the blues instrumental. His influences are many, but the original tunes he performed clearly suggested the guitar precision and perspective of Freddie King and Albert Collins.
Vaughan's voice, however, was obviously overworked. After pushing it to the limit on "dirty Pool" he gladly surrendered the microphone to Lou Ann Barton, a singer who is a lot more suggestive than she is subtle. As a result she was well equipped to handle songs by Koko Taylor ("You Can Have My Husband but Don't Mess Around With My Man") and Slim Harpo ("Scratch My Back").
The Nighthawks were instrumental in helping Double Trouble make it to D.C. and their efforts paid off at last night's sellout concert. Both groups will appear again today and tonight at Desperado's.