You Can’t Change It
Originally posted January 2012 on “On the Road with Texas Folklife”
Doyle Bramhall 1949-2011
We’ve lost a lot of legendary blues artists in the past year: Pinetop Perkins, Willie “Big Eye” Smith, David “Honeyboy” Edwards, Hubert Sumlin, and just last week – the great Etta James and the producer who discovered her, Johnny Otis. The blues is something that is near and dear to my heart, so with every one of these losses comes an indescribable pain as the living history of this music seems to be fading away.
I started writing this blog last November when I got the news about the passing of blues drummer Doyle Bramhall. This shocked and saddened me, most of all, because he was not at the age at which one might expect this to happen – the same age as my parents. I’ve been a Doyle Bramhall fan since childhood, as Family Style by the Vaughan Brothers’ and many of the Antone’s Anniversary anthology records were constantly playing around my house. The crack of the snare drum and beautiful Texas drawl in his singing were unmistakable. I grew up hearing my father’s stories about watching Doyle play at the Studio Club in Dallas and then in the late ‘60s at the Vulcan Gas Company in Austin. In 2004, I met Clifford Antone, who quickly became my good friend (as he did with anyone he met) and collaborator. No one spoke more highly of Doyle Bramhall than Clifford. He owed a lot of his club’s success to people like Doyle, Jimmie and Stevie Vaughan who were with him since 1970 – 5 years before the opening of Antone’s Night Club.