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HARLEY HAMM TRIBUTE TO
STEVIE RAY VAUGHAN
Harley Hamm is the very definition of showman.
At the recent Woodstock Tribute Show at The Roxy Theater in Muskogee, he left the stage to swagger up and down the aisles in the middle of his performance. With the fringe swinging on his leather jacket and the ostrich feather bobbing on his hat, he leaned in close to wink at women in the audience, all without dropping a single note on his cordless electric guitar.
Besides his charisma, Hamm is a gifted guitarist and singer. His newest CD, “Stevie Ray Vaughan: The Tribute,” pays homage to the legendary musician. The concert and CD release party takes place at 7 p.m. Friday at The Roxy Theater. Joining Hamm is his Stevie Ray Vaughan Tribute Band, consisting of Charlie Redd on bass, Stanley Ferry on drums and Brian Lee on keyboard.
Hamm said Vaughan has had a significant musical influence on his life since childhood. “I liked the way he played, the way he dressed and sang,” Hamm said. “Growing up in my music career, people were always telling me that I reminded them of him. And I can emulate him pretty close in my playing.” Hamm said his Vaughan impersonation started off in 2009 as a Halloween performance at Lola’s at the Bowery in Tulsa.
“There was a booking agent in the crowd who said I ought to think about doing it professionally,” Hamm said. “He said, ‘I feel like I’m watching Stevie Ray Vaughan.’ So I pursued it and have been doing it ever since.” Hamm’s tribute shows have gained momentum with each performance. At a motorcycle rally earlier this year, he said, more than 300 bikers asked to purchase a CD.
Having none available, Hamm wrote new material and hit the studio. “I just wanted it to be a short, sweet, six-song kind of thing,” he said. “I didn’t record Stevie’s songs, but I recorded it in his style.” Hamm said he was particularly honored to have recorded two of the instrumental songs with 78-year-old organ player Bill Willis of Broken Arrow and the band, SOBs (Shades of Blues).
“He was the organ player for Jimmie Vaughan, Stevie’s brother,” Hamm said. Willis started attending Hamm’s gigs at the Hard Rock Casino in Catoosa in 2004. At the time, Hamm said he did not realize the man was a famous keyboardist.
“He always sat in front of me when I was playing,” Hamm said. “He’d just sit there and grin.” Redd finally spilled the secret.
“Imagine how surprised I was to find out this nice old guy had been playing with a national act,” Hamm said. “I had no idea he lived right there in Tulsa.”
Hamm and Willis, along with Ferry on drums, went almost immediately to a studio in Tulsa and recorded an organ trio CD, even before they had a chance to play a gig together.
Hamm said his Stevie Ray Vaughan CD is a way of honoring Willis, who died in 2010.
“Bill did his last gig with me and died about a month later,” Hamm said. “I liked him a lot and we were really great friends. The CD is a tribute to Stevie and to Bill at the same time.”
Hamm is working with an agent and has plans to take the Stevie Ray Vaughan Tribute to Las Vegas, along with cities in California and Arizona. He is also recording a solo CD in Tulsa.
“It will have all styles of music on it because I love all styles, including funk, rock, jazz, blues and R & B,” Hamm said. “It will probably be a 12-song LP.”
Despite the success and touring, Hamm said he calls Green Country home.
“It looks like I won’t have to move anywhere,” Hamm said. “I can do it all from right here.”