Tracy ConoverI’ve got the week off of work without anything much planned, so I thought maybe - with the cooperation of my ISP - I’d try to regularly update my blawg. I’m going to search around and see if I can find some obscure stuff with which to keep my readers entertained. mmkay?
I learned during my time living in Texas that electric blues all but originated there. Not to take anything at all away from the Mississippi Delta or Chicago, but long before ZZTop, guitar slingers such as T-Bone Walker, Albert Collins, and Lightnin’ Hopkins had plugged in and created a distinctive style that emphasized the guitar. Stevie Ray Vaughn reinvigorated the style in the 1980s, and in so doing, refocused the scene in Austin. Now, just about any night of the week, you can still find a bar on 6th Street or in Deep Ellum in Dallas where someone’s wrenching the blues out of a beat-up Telecaster.
The person who actually introduced me to Texas’ long history of blues was a guitarist named Tracy Conover. When I was going to Texas A&M, College Station put on its own mini-version of South-By-SouthWest, calling it North-By-NorthGate, after the small strip of bars outside the campus. The school paper assigned me to do a story on Conover. I set up a phone interview and she eventually called me, about 9 pm one night. We talked briefly about NXNG, then, when she realized I was ignorant to Texas music, proceded to school me. We talked for about an hour, mostly about the blues and about her influences. She put me onto some amazing, but underrated guitarists, including Chris Duarte.
I went a couple of times to see Tracy play live and was amazed every time at how this tiny white woman could make her Strat cry just like the best Texas bluesmen.
I’ve got today a couple of songs from a demo album I think she did in 2000 or 2001. One of the songs, “My Big Rocker,” she cut with Chris Layton and Tommy Shannon, formerly of Double Trouble.
My Big Rocker.mp3
Long Pink Lincoln.mp3
If you live in the Houston, Austin, or Dallas areas, and love the blues, I urge you to go see Tracy Conover live. If you don’t llive in those areas, and love the blues, I urge you to dig around your record stores and learn about the Texas style of playing the blues.
A history of Texas blues, from the Handbook of Texas online.