By Damian Fanelli
Assuming they read liner notes, even mildly devoted Stevie Ray Vaughan fans will be familiar with the name Doyle Bramhall.
Bramhall, an Austin-based singer and drummer who died in 2011, wrote several classic SRV tracks, including “Lookin’ Out the Window,” “Life By the Drop” and “Change It.” He also co-wrote several killer songs with Vaughan, including “Dirty Pool,” “The House Is Rockin'” and “Tightrope.”
What a lot of Vaughan fans might not know is that Bramhall and SRV co-wrote a hard-charging funk/jazz instrumental number called “Chateau Strut,” which never appeared on a Vaughan album. In fact, Bramhall didn’t decide to record it until 2006 or 2007, 15-plus years after Vaughan’s tragic death in 1990. It’s one of the highlights of Bramhall’s third and final solo album, 2007’s Is It News (Yep Roc).
Be sure to check out Bramhall’s version of “Chateau Strut” below (top video). In a sense, it can be considered a “lost” SRV track, an original song that might’ve fit perfectly on an SRV album that will, of course, never exist. To hear Vaughan play the track, check out the bottom YouTube clip (below), which is labeled “Ultra-Rare Stevie Vaughan ‘Chateau Strut’ Live Instrumental.” We’re not sure where or when it’s from, or even if it’s truly SRV, but it sure as hell sounds like him.
According to Brahmall, who was the father of singer/lefty guitarist Doyle Bramhall II, “Chateau Strut” was written around 1974, when Vaughan, Bramhall and keyboardist Billy Etheridge were warming up at an East Texas club called the Club Chateau. This rendition, featuring Mike Keller on guitar, Etheridge on piano and Bramhall on drums, was recorded in one take, because, Bramhall joked, “my arms couldn’t do any more.”
According to AllMusic.com, the tasty, song-propelling bass line is played by Scott Nelson.
As a singer, songwriter and drummer, Bramhall was an integral part of the extended Texas music scene for 40 years, not to mention one of the founding fathers of the blues/roots resurgence that was synonymous with the Lone Star State and the blues/roots migration from Dallas to Austin.
Growing up in Dallas, Bramhall’s Chessmen opened for Jimi Hendrix in 1968, when Bramhall was in his teens. Moving to Austin with the band’s guitarist, Jimmie Vaughan, the two formed Storm, which Bramhall eventually left to form the Nightcrawlers, this time with Vaughan’s little brother, Stevie Ray.
Jimmie Vaughan plays on Is It News, by the way. His distinctive Strat picking can be heard on the bluesy “Little Star (The Moon Is Shining).”
Damian Fanelli is the online managing editor at Guitar World and Guitar Aficionado. His New York-based band, the Blue Meanies, has toured the world and elsewhere. Fanelli, a former member of Brooklyn jump-blues/swing/rockabilly band the Gas House Gorillas and New York City instrumental surf-rock band Mister Neutron, also composes and records film soundtracks. He writes GuitarWorld.com’s The Next Bend column, which is dedicated to B-bender guitars and guitarists. His latest liner notes can be found in Sony/Legacy’s Stevie Ray Vaughan: The Complete Epic Recordings Collection. Follow him on Facebook, Twitter and/or Instagram.