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My review of the documentary about Stevie Ray Vaughan posts to Elmore magazine

5 Apr

The DVD documentary, Lonestar: Stevie Ray Vaughan 1984-1989, delivers in 108 minutes a roller coaster of emotions about Texas’ beloved late blues guitarist, Stevie Ray Vaughan, beginning with his debut, Texas Flood, and ending with his death at 35 years old in a helicopter crash August 27, 1990 outside East Troy, Wisconsin. The disc features photos and rare film footage recorded during concerts and behind-the-scenes interviews with friends, former band members, and those within Vaughan’s inner circle including his last girlfriend, Janna Lapidus LeBlanc. In archival videos, Vaughan himself gives a painful testimony about how he overcame an addiction to drugs and alcohol and began to live a sober lifestyle.

Following the success of his Grammy-award-winning album, In Step, Vaughan began his fateful final tour on May 4, 1989, performing 147 shows over 18 months. This writer had the privilege to see Vaughan perform live along the shore of Mountain Shadow Lakes in El Paso on May 29, 1989. That desert hot day, without a spot of shade to be found anywhere within a 20-mile radius, fans responded to Vaughan and his musical entourage with near hysteria. The Dallas native opened with his first mainstream hit single, nominated in 1984 as the best song of the year, “Cold Shot,” off his Couldn’t Stand the Weather album.

Vaughan and his band, Double Trouble, recorded three studio and several live albums, earning them a controversial mix of both praise and criticism over a tumultuous five-year career. In Austin, his legacy continues. At Auditorium Shores Park in 1994 the Austin Parks and Recreation Department erected a life-size bronze statue created by artist Ralph Helmick in the musician’s likeness, complete with his signature hat and trench coat created. Most often Vaughan performed on his hybrid 1962-63 Stratocaster nicknamed “Number One,” also referred to as “First Wife.” Those who remember the bluesmaster, will weep in sorrow at his tribute; newcomers may find inspiration. This film, the sister to Sexy Intellectual’s documentary, Rise of a Texas Bluesman—Stevie Ray Vaughan 1954-1983, makes widows of us all anew through archive songs and images. 

Please also see my article as it appears on Elmore magazine’s website at:


My review of Honky Tonk Heaven posts to Elmore magazine

15 Nov

Honky Tonk Heaven: The Legend of the Broken Spoke – Elmore MagHonky Tonky Heaven: The Legend of the Broken Spoke both enchants and mesmerizes with 75 minutes of true stories from co-founders James and Annetta White and friends about Austin’s 52-year-old state treasure.

The Wild Blue Yonder Films crew, including directors Brenda Mitchell and Sam Wainwright Douglas, and directors of photography Lee Daniel and David Layton, worked behind the scenes for more than two years to capture the story of the Broken Spoke in interviews and in intimate details.

Cast and crew, together with producers Jenny Holm and Michelle Randolph Faires, celebrated on November 9th with a DVD screening and release party inside the Broken Spoke. About 200 people attended the event, including executive producers Scott Mitchell and Maria J. McDonald and contributors to the $62,000 Kickstarter campaign.

In the film, James White describes how, beginning in 1964, he booked Bob Wills, Ernest Tubb, Kitty Wells, Roy Acuff, Willie Nelson and George Strait. He expanded the Broken Spoke’s list of entertainers in the 1970s to include Jerry Jeff Walker, Gary P. Nunn, Ray Benson and Alvin Crow. By the 1990s, Cornell Hurd, Dale Watson and Jesse Dayton joined the scene. Meanwhile, Annetta White has regularly cooked up batches of her famous chicken fried steak and cream gravy.

Together, the Whites and their daughters, Ginny White-Peacock and Terri White, discuss how they have managed to keep the family business afloat for half a century. The roof leaked, at one time a tour bus drove through the back bar and a neighboring multi-use commercial multi-million dollar development threatened its future, but still the Broken Spoke survives.

Terri teaches dance lessons, while Ginny acts as business manager and sews “bling” onto her father’s vintage western shirts. James White’s colorful, Gene Autry-style costumes with wide roped yolks and five-snap button cuffs have become his trademark at the dance hall door as he greets visitors with a smile and a handshake.

Footage of live performances, one-of-a-kind country music memorabilia and the best dancers anywhere shine beneath its neon lights to make this visual story unforgettable. The documentary won the “Audience Award” at the 2016 SXSW Film, Music and Interactive Festival. Worldwide Broken Spoke fans and newcomers alike may now experience the thrill of a real Texas honky-tonk from the comfort of their own homes.

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To order the DVD Honky Tonk Heaven, please click on this link to

Please also see my review posted on Elmore magazine’s website at:

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