I was lucky enough to see SRV in concert in August 1989, during the In Step tour. It was an outside concert on Harriet Island in St. Paul. I may have been far away from the stage, but I still fell under the magic of his music.
Which leads me to this: since SRV’s death, there have been many clones come out, like Kenny Wayne Sheppard and Corey Stevens, and probably thousands of others around the world, all brandishing Sunburst strats and wearing a hat.
This leads to severe criticism on guitar forums all over the Internet. Are these musicians original? Are they just copies of SRV, who he himself proudly admitted that he took from the people before him, and made the songs his own?
I used to think these guys were silly to try to emulate SRV. Now I think it is great, because in today’s bland music scene, they are least trying to keep this kind of music alive. SRV is not around anymore to do it, so why not all those guitarists across the world? I see it all over – particularly on YouTube - with young kids, picking up a guitar and wanting to play like SRV. How cool is that? The fact the young kids, both boys and girls, are doing this kind of music instead of listening to Hannah Montana, that Spears lady and others, is a very good thing!
Onto John Mayer: I am always amazed at how much criticism is leveled at John Mayer for daring to sound like SRV. Here is a guy who loves to play guitar and is one of the new great, young guitar players with mainstream success, bringing SRV’s style of music back into light. And all these guys do is complain about how stupid Mayer looks when he plays, or that he found success playing AOR music before going into the blues with the John Mayer Trio. We, as guitar players, should appreciate any effort that a guy like Mayer makes to keep SRV’s (and others) brand of charged-up blues rock going.
It really does not matter to me that it has all been done before. I just like the music, and how it makes me feel. I miss Stevie Ray Vaughn. But his music and spirit is alive in all of us who like to play in his style, paly his songs and learn from what he did. I suppose it is the passing down from one generation to the next. Maybe someone out there will discover a new direction to take it.