John McVey & The Stumble
If you want to hear real Texas blues, without the glitter and turd polishing of modern recording, with big balls attitude need for the Lone Star state, you need to put on - John McVey - whom Real Blues Magazine called“the toughest guitar player in Texas”.
In an age when imitation has become inevitable, the musical Holy Grail for a musician is to discover a unique sound. John McVey was brought up by Larry Davis and Albert King, both who pushed him to find his own tone. He did just that. When you heard his guitar drifting through the streets of downtown Austin at night, you instantly knew it was John McVey. Dubbed by musicologist, Wes Race and guitaris Derek O’Brien, as “the missing 4th West Side guitarist”, John’s fiery playing does indeed evoke the Chicago sound combined with an aggressive Texas attack. With no effects pedals, his ‘singing guitar’ emotes heart-rending bends and smooth runs as well as bold chording which has led many, including the legendary ‘Uncle’ John Turner, to call McVey “the best rhythm guitar player around.” Whether playing a Strat or a Tele, a Fender or a Marshall amp, young guns are always scrutinizing McVey’s rig and settings to try to decipher just how he achieves his signature tone. “In a gun battle, it ain’t the fastest draw that wins but the man with nerves of steel and a steady hand.” John ads wryly: “A good pair of bifocals doesn’t hurt at this point, either”.
A veteran of touring bands on the Chittlin’ Circuit, John’s even been shot at in places such as Foster’s Blue Room in Kansas City and theOwls Club in North Little Rock. “Back when I first started out with Larry Davis, we’d play places that were real blood-and-bucket joints. You just had to play like you were gonna fight somebody.”John worked with a number of harmonica-based blues bands, traveling extensively with Hook Herrera & the Hitchhikers and then with Paul Orta & the Kingpins. In the early 1990’s, two weeks after the coup against Gorbachev, John found himself onstage in Nickel, Russia at the legendary Harmonica Rumble sponsored by blues entrepreneur Eddie Stout. After a very profitable Miller Genuine Draft Light television spot and a tour of Italy, John was invited to join the Lavelle White Band as guitarist and bandleader. With Lavelle, he played the festival circuit with the likes of Luther Allison and John Lee Hooker for several years. After 20 plus years, McVey decided to get off the road and reform The Stumble. John signed with Doc Blues Records in 2002 and released his debut album: ”Gone To Texas” produced by Derek O’Brien and featuring Kim Wilson, Joel Guzman, Larry Fulcher, Mike Buck and Frosty. John briefly returned to the road traveling throughout Texas and with overseas tours of Belize, Israel, Italy and Switzerland. In 2006 John relocated to Houston and recorded his live CD “Road House Stomp” at Dan Electros in the Heights and released by D.A. Records. John regularly performs in the greater Houston-Galveston area with The Stumble: Marie English on keyboards, Harry Dolphin on bass and Jimmy ‘Houston’ Pate on drums.
If you like your blues guitar with plenty of tasty single string guitar lines where the guitarist lets the space between the notes be a part of the musical canvas you should give John McVey’s music a listen. No shreddin’ here folks; just some solid well thought progressions in every solo. When he hits those minor key notes on the slow blues or a strums a blue chord to punctuate the emotion of the moment, it sends shivers up the spine. This is what Texas blues is supposed to sound like!