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KPLU All Blues host John Kessler has expanded "The Blues Time Machine," which has been a popular segment on his weekend blues shows. The weekly series tracks one great blues song through history - from its earliest recording to its latest and sometimes, with some surprising interpretations. "The Blues Time Machine" airs on KPLU on Fridays at 12:10 p.m. during the "Blue Plate Special," and on All Blues Saturdays and Sundays at 8 and 11 p.m.

'Cold Shot,' Stevie Ray Vaughan's real Texas Shuffle

Stevie Ray Vaughan
Scott Newton
Stevie Ray Vaughan

Stevie Ray Vaughan almost single-handedly brought blues to the mainstream in the 1980’s and 90’s with over a dozen Billboard singles and four Grammy awards. He’ll always be considered one of the most original guitar players of all time.

Though musically untrained, he was an astute student of the blues, and much of what he popularized is built on the work of his fellow Texas bluesmen.

If you’re even a casual blues fan there’s a good chance you’ve heard Stevie Ray Vaughan’s 1984 recording of “Cold Shot," it’s one of several different “Texas Shuffle” beats that he and his band Double Trouble did better than most anyone.

Here’s Stevie Ray and Double Trouble performing “Cold Shot”:

“Cold Shot” is a tune he learned from his friend bluesman W.C. Clark from Austin, Texas. The two were actually bandmates in the mid 1970’s, in a band called Triple Threat with Lou Ann Barton.

W.C. Clark recorded it in 1993. Notice in this live video how W.C. Clark is really working the rhythm on the low strings of the guitar, a style that was a big influence on SRV:

Mandolinist Kenny Blackwell, and guitarist Mark Thornton gave the song a bluegrass treatment from their 2001 CD “Pickin’ On Stevie Ray Vaughan, a Bluegrass Tribute.” They’ve also worked on bluegrass tributes to The Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin and the Dave Matthews band.

The set ends with a Latin treatment of the song with the NYC based group Iguazu, who recorded “Cold Shot” in 2000.

A sure sign of a great song like “Cold Shot” is how it translates to different genres. Some critics call this quality “resilience."

Here are the full versions of “Cold Shot” tracked through time:

Stevie Ray Vaughan: “Cold Shot” 1984

W.C. Clark: “Cold Shot” 1993

Iguazu: “Cold Shot” 2000

Blackwell & Thornton: “Cold Shot” 2001

John has worked as a professional bassist for 20 years, including a 15 year stint as Musical Director of the Mountain Stage radio program. John has been at KNKX since 1999 where he hosts “All Blues”, is producer of the BirdNote radio program, and co-hosts “Record Bin Roulette”. John is also the recording engineer for KNKX “In-Studio Performances”. Not surprisingly, John's main musical interests are jazz and blues, and he is still performing around Seattle.