Monday, 31 May 2010

The Blues had a baby and they called him Virgil McMahon

A skinny kid in new sneakers grabs a '62 Strat by the neck and takes the stage. The boy rejoices in the name Virgil. Without ado he tears out a bang-on version scuttle buttin', the paint-blistering opener of Stevie Ray Vaughan's  Couldn't Stand The Weather. Paint duly blisters.

Bang-on. A little dirtier, maybe - but he's just a kid- he's got testosterone to cope with and all, and he did call his band The Accelerators. They don't claim subtlety; don't expect it. Before the end of his set he's done the same album's title track too, the same way. Foot down hard against the metal. "Floor it - that's technical talk", just like Stevie says.

Technical Talk. Virgil's 18. Virgil's from Aberystwyth. Virgil totes a '62 Strat. Before you ask how he came by an axe the rest of us would take out a mortgage for, he tells you: Virgil's an arms dealer. Virgil traded it for guns and diamonds. Or his daddy did. Or I misheard. it was loud in the club.

Virgil's from Aberystwyth. A big market for contraband arms in the Welsh valleys, then? Virgil tells you he's an African. Or his daddy is. Or they both are, and so's his kid brother. Virgil leans back and gestures at the kid on the drums. Virgil's brother is 16. Traded them for an Uzi. Or his daddy did. Or something.

Who's the daddy?

Stevie Ray Vaughan is.

Virgil tells you, earnestly, that he doesn't want to be another Stevie Ray, that he wants to be the original Virgil McMahon, and then he shows you his tattoo. It don't say "Virgil". And nor - yet - does his guitar playing.

They both say "SRV". In capitals.

Now, of course, that's no bad thing for now. There was another hot guitarist in town, back end of last week. Virgil left him for dead. There's an argument, matter of fact, this other dude was dead. If he wasn't, Virgil's got chops this other guy would die for. This other guy used to be a contender. Eric someone.

Read it: Virgil left Clapton for dead.

Read it: Virgil's just a kid. Sap rising, mojo working.

Read it: Virgil's mama told him he's gonna be the greatest man alive. Virgil just doesn't know this yet, because he hasn't discovered Muddy Waters yet.

He'll learn - and then, by God, then he'll play the blues.

But for now he needs to work out what numbers up to 5 on his gain dial are for, and to look out some of the other records in his daddy's collection besides Texas Flood.


  1. Virgil knows Muddy Waters inside out, along with any of the blues masters, he was breastfed a diet of them :)

  2. Beautiful. Then, boy am I looking forward to that next album. But if there are any more signs of infant formula in that playing style, be sure Electric Ray will call them out.

    Look into your dark heart, young Virgil.