When Dave Grohl of the Foo Fighters took his traveling HBO music series, “Sonic Highways,” to Austin, the Texas music people he interviewed included Willie Nelson, ZZ Top’s Billy Gibbons and, naturally, Jimmie Vaughan.
Blues-rocker Vaughan — who’s performing Saturday at the LA Vets Fest in St. Francisville — formed the Fabulous Thunderbirds in Austin with singer-harmonica player Kim Wilson in 1974.
The T-Birds worked as the house band for Austin’s home of the blues, Antone’s. In 1986, the group’s album, “Tuff Enough,” and its title song became major hits. Vaughan left the Fabulous Thunderbirds just a few years later. “Family Style,” an album with his blues-rock star younger brother, Stevie Ray, was his first post-T-Birds project.
The Austin episode of “Sonic Highways,” in addition to its interviews and footage with Jimmie Vaughan, features incendiary footage of the late Stevie Ray’s “Austin City Limits” appearances.
“Family Style,” the Vaughan brothers’ only duet album, became an unintended tribute to Stevie Ray after he was killed at 35 in a 1990 helicopter crash.
Austin has changed tremendously since the Vaughan brothers moved there from Dallas in the 1970s, but Jimmie Vaughan continues to enjoy being in the Texas capital several days a week.
“I still have a lot of fun,” he said from his home near Austin. “And I have my little clique and friends who I see. But Austin has grown and there’s a little bit of everything there. Country and soul bands with six or seven horns and everything in between. I think that’s good.”
Vaughan thought well of “Sonic Highways,” too.
“It was really cool,” he said of the show’s Austin episode. “He (Grohl) filters it through what he likes, so it’s still got his taste on it. I was glad to be there.”
Vaughan also participated in the all-star tribute to Dr. John, “The Musical Mojo of Dr. John: A Celebration of Mac & His Music.” Staged May 3 at the Saenger Theatre in New Orleans, the made-for-TV event also featured Bruce Springsteen, John Fogerty, Mavis Staples, three Neville brothers, Widespread Panic and Allen Toussaint.
“I was just happy to be there,” Vaughan said. “I love Dr. John and a lot of those people who were there. It was exciting that they asked little old me to come.”
At the tribute, Vaughan performed “Come On,” a song by one of Dr. John’s New Orleans mentors, Earl King.
“The T-Birds used to play the Earl King version,” he said. “And my brother loved it, too. He liked the Jimi Hendrix version of it. But everybody likes Earl King. I’m sure if you were in a New Orleans band, you had to play that song.”
Vaughan released his solo album debut, “Strange Pleasure,” in 1994. He hasn’t been a prolific solo recording artist but, with his 2010 album, “Plays Blues, Ballads & Favorites,” he found an enduring project.
The latter album and its likeminded follow-up, 2011’s “Plays More Blues, Ballads & Favorites,” features Vaughan’s faithful renditions of songs by such classic blues, rhythm-and-blues and rock ’n’ roll artists as Jimmy Reed, Roy Milton, Johnny Ace, Don and Dewey, Little Richard and Bobby Charles.
A third “Favorites” album is in the works. Vaughan and his Tilt-A-Whirl Band, featuring Lou Ann Barton, also perform the “Blues, Ballads & Favorites” songs in their show.
“My favorite tunes and the same with Lou,” he said. “That’s what we’re doing.”