Doyle Bramhall II is one of the best blues guitarists walking around planet Earth. He can play old-school blues and newer-school stuff a la SRV, but to my ears he also does the amazing, which is take this loose, cool, Strat-inflected, semi-psychedelic style and inject it with an original blues-rock, vocal-delivery thing, much like — Hendrix. Yes, Hendrix, and I don’t say that lightly.
So far, the Hendrix analogies I’ve read have involved African-American guitarists — notably the very talented Eric Gales (he’s a lefty too, as is Doyle) — and singers, notably Doug Pinnick of King’s X (wait — he’s a lefty too). They have voices that are more similar to Hendrix, but to me, Doyle has that “thing” — that whatever it is you can’t exactly put your finger on, can’t exactly put into words unique “thing” Hendrix had.
It might not hit you at first. It didn’t for me. But just keep listening. If you’re into that style of music, or good music, you probably will feel compelled to.
Eric Clapton, Roger Waters and a bunch of other big names in the biz must agree because they’ve hired Doyle as an axe-slinger/singer.
Doyle is the son of Doyle Bramhall. Never heard of DB1? If not, you still might have heard him. Here’s the first part of the DBII bio off his website: “Doyle Bramhall II was raised in a home filled with the blues and rock and roll sounds that are indigenous to his birthplace: Austin, Texas. His father, Doyle Bramhall Sr., was the drummer for blues legend Lightning Hopkins and a regular collaborator with Jimmie and Stevie Ray Vaughan. When Doyle was 16 years old, he toured as second guitarist with Jimmy Vaughan’s band, The Fabulous Thunderbirds.”
Obviously a pretty good early education. I’ll leave the rest of the Doyle-discovery voyage up to you, but here’s his signal chain followed by some required listening (good amount of stuff on YouTube):
Signal Chain — Woody!
> ’60s left-handed Fender Strat strung upside down, lots of pedals (Octavia, fuzz, wah, Univibe, Line 6 delay, others), ’60s Marshall Super Bass. Here he talks about his pedal board, and Clapton’s reaction to it (starts at 4:00):
Other Doyle Stuff
> Doyle Bramhall II & Smokestack, Welcome (CD)
> First single off that CD was Green Light Girl
> Arc Angels, with Charlie Sexton and Double Trouble, partial vid of Living in a Dream, done many moons ago although I believe they still play together.
More music is available on Doyle’s website, here. Good variety. Also heard he does well on the 2007 Crossroads Festival DVD, but I haven’t watched it.
Gales and Pinnick
Eric Gales doing Little Wing
King’s X doing Manic Depression