Although this story isn't about me—in fact, it has nothing to do with me—I will share one of my mottos, something that I live by:
"If you can't do justice to a Stevie Ray Vaughan song, don't bother playing it."
Several people might take offense to that, but whatever. I'm sticking to my motto. It works. (This is pretty much why I stopped performing Stevie Ray Vaughan songs a few years ago, by the way.)
That said, here are five (mostly) live covers that enter the realm of doing justice to the late SRV. Since it is so difficult to capture the essence of SRV with a guitar (I watched some ordinary and/or horrible guitar covers while compiling this piece, including ordinary/horrible performances by bands that call themselves "the premiere SRV cover band"), you'll notice a few twists below, including a complete lack of guitars in some of these videos.
Please note that Buddy Guy's version of the Vaughan Brothers' "Long Way from Home" belongs on this list but is not available on YouTube at the moment. If anyone can find it, please let me know in the comments below. Enjoy!
12-Year-Old Fredrik Strand Halland Plays "Texas Flood"
Below, watch then-12-year-old Norwegian singer-guitarist Fredrik Halland play an impressive rendition of "Texas Flood," a song made famous by SRV in 1983. Right off the bat, let us mention that this clip is from 2006, but it's worth checking out. While we don't know a lot about the video (no extra information is included), we know it was shot as part of a Norwegian talent show. Regardless, one thing is certain: This kid shreds.
Clay Shelburn and Zac Stokes Play "Pride and Joy" on a Toy Guitar
While visiting an empty Walmart at 3 a.m., musician Clay Shelburn and his buddy Zac Stokes performed this impromptu version of SRV's “Pride and Joy” on a toy guitar. We’re sure neither of them ever thought the video would reach 2 million views, but it’s no surprise that it did, as Shelburn’s licks (and singing) are on point.
Luna Lee Plays "Scuttle Buttin'" on a Traditional Korean Gayageum
Here's Luna Lee performing an iconic SRV track on the gayageum, a traditional Korean zither-like instrument. The gayageum has 12 strings, although some variants have been made with 21 strings. It is probably the best-known traditional Korean musical instrument. (Thank you, Wikipedia!).
Joe Jeremiah plays "Rude Mood" on Piano
Here's Joe Jeremiah's piano version of Vaughan's instrumental shred fest, "Rude Mood," a track that appeared on Texas Flood. We have to admit that "Rude Mood," which was heavily inspired by Lightnin' Hopkins' "Hopkins' Sky Hop"—sounds like a natural boogie-woogie piano piece in this clip. Note that Jeremiah is playing SRV's guitar parts pretty much note for note, which is an achievement for any instrument.
Kenny Wayne Shepherd, Buddy Guy, Willie Nelson, Doyle Bramhall II, Lukas Nelson, Robert Randolph and Lyle Lovett Play "Texas Flood"
Here's a clip from a special anniversary edition of Austin City Limits that aired last year. While I'm not typically a fan of these "crowd the stage with all-stars" performances, there's no denying that Kenny Wayne Shepherd hits the nail on the head from the get-go (and you're in luck because he's the first soloist). He's not playing SRV's exact lines; he's completely capturing the feel and excitement of SRV, which ain't easy.