Jimmie Vaughan returns to Oak Cliff for screening of Brothers in Blues documentary

Jimmie Vaughan returns to Oak Cliff for screening of Brothers in Blues documentary
Jimmie Vaughan returns to Oak Cliff for screening of Brothers in Blues documentary

In Kirby Warnock’s latest documentary, Jimmie and Stevie Ray Vaughan: Brothers in Blues, ZZ Top vocalist and guitarist Billy Gibbons says of his fellow Texan icons, “There are two kinds of people: those who know the Vaughan brothers and those who don’t.”

Growing up in a 1950s Oak Cliff home, the Vaughans took their virtuoso guitar playing to the national music scene, adding to the list of legendary Dallas musicians. Despite their key roles in the music scene, their hometown hadn’t done much to celebrate them.

Filmmaker Kirby Warnock decided to honor the Vaughan brothers themselves.

“It always bothered me that Dallas never honored our musicians, and there are some really great musicians that come out of Dallas,” he says. “We just don’t tell anyone about it.”

Warnock proposed that a public art piece honoring Jimmie and the late Stevie Ray Vaughan be built just blocks from the brothers’ childhood home in Oak Cliff. As he saw it, Dallas honors businessmen, politicians and longhorns, but doesn’t put much effort into commemorating the contributions of the artists, even world-renowned trailblazers like the Vaughans. Warnock echoes a remark of his old history professor at Baylor University, “Cultural history is as important as the history of battles and politicians.”

The story behind the Oak Cliff statue honoring the Vaughans became a saga in itself, but Warnock’s efforts finally came to fruition in 2020, when a work by Casto Solano was unveiled in Kiest Park.

Warnock, a filmmaker, journalist and former editor of Buddy magazine, first saw the Vaughan brothers play in the 1970s.

“I’m a guitar player too, but when they picked up their guitars, they played an instrument I was no longer familiar with,” says Warnock. “For both of them, the guitar became an extension of their bodies. Whenever I went to see the Vaughan brothers play anywhere, there was always a crowd of musicians and always someone famous too.”

Some of the famous names in the audience, he recalls, included Dicky Betts, Bob Dylan, Billy Gibbons and Jaco Pastorius.

The Vaughan brothers helped revive the Texas blues, bringing the sound to the national stage while playing with artists such as David Bowie, Jimi Hendrix and Eric Clapton. Stevie Ray Vaughan’s life ended in 1990 at the age of 35 in a fatal helicopter crash after opening a show for Clapton in Wisconsin.

Looking at the stories of the Vaughan brothers’ lives and careers, Warnock saw cracks in the narratives, which inspired him to make a documentary, premiering March 22 in Austin, filling in the blanks.

“There are tons of books and movies out there [about Stevie Ray Vaughan]but all the good documentaries always missed Jimmy’s voice,” he says.

Warnock also wanted to include other personal accounts, such as those of Eric Clapton and Jackson Browne, who lent his recording studio to Stevie Ray for his first album.

Gaining so many intimate perspectives was a challenging yet rewarding feat, says Warnock. He remembers the first time he showed the film to Jimmie Vaughan and his emotional response.

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“We sat, just the two of us, and watched the film,” says Warnock. “After it was over, he turned to me and said, ‘I don’t know whether to cry or kiss you!’ To me, that was the biggest compliment.”

The Texas Theater will screen the documentary later this month before its release on streaming platforms. Jimmie Vaughan will attend and participate in a Q&A session.

“We’ve been fans of Kirby Warnock’s work for years,” says Texas Theatre’s managing partner Barak Epstein. “We always show his movies. His movies are Dallas-focused, about the Dallas music scene. They’re of great interest to Dallas, so we love to show them.”

Jimmie and Stevie Ray Vaughan: Brothers in Blues will be shown at 7 p.m., March 23, at the Texas Theater (231 W. Jefferson Blvd.), with an introduction and Q&A with Jimmie Vaughan. Tickets are $17.

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