By Andrew Ellis, Editor-in-Chief
As a kid it wasn’t the top 40 you’d hear coming out of Joe Filipovich‘s stereo. It was the ones who paved the way. It also meant it left a lot of time for him to hone his own guitar-playing style.
“My friends weren’t into the old classic music so I was always playing guitar alone in my basement, or with my cousins,” Filipovich says.
Every guitarist has their heroes whether it be Eric Clapton, Brad Paisley, B.B. King, Vince Gill, or Buddy Guy. For Filipovich it was the legendary Stevie Ray Vaughan. He soaked up every lyric he sang, note he played, and interview he gave.
“As a kid, I pretended that he was talking directly to me and he was giving me guitar lessons,” he says.
Filipovich never had proper guitar lessons. But Vaughan talked plenty about how he approached playing the guitar. What stuck with him most was how Vaughan talked about the importance of playing music from the heart, and not leaning so much on technique. It was advice that Filipovich took very seriously. As a seasoned player now he realizes both are important, but his stubbornness got in the way early on.
Filipovich was juggling the life of a musician with a day job and a kid until one fateful day he was laid off. Then he decided to roll the dice and gamble on what may would call a very risky decision with questionable stability: make music and the music business his full time gig. As he started networking he began to realize many other local musicians had the same musical taste – that’s when the idea for a tribute show crossed his mind.
“I thought it would be fun to hire all the best local musicians to throw together a Stevie Ray Vaughan tribute show,” he says.
To avoid gig conflicts he chose a Sunday afternoon at the Minnesota Music Cafe with a goal of selling 50 to 100 tickets. It turns out he should’ve aimed higher.
“We actually sold out with 350 ticket sales,” he says.
He made a lot of memories at that show, and met a ton of other musicians. But the planning of the show was a huge undertaking for a small profit so he thought it would be one-and-done deal. Then the fans started asking about the next one, and it prompted him to take it to the next level with talent.
“I hired Scott Holt as the headliner,” he says. “He was in Buddy Guy’s band for 10 years and recorded with Stevie’s band and Jimi Hendrix’s band.”
Taking place this Sunday, May 20th, the upcoming 3rd show promises to be the biggest yet – and it won’t just be one band on stage. Three different rhythm sections will be gracing the Cabooze stage with over 20 musicians playing throughout the night.
“Some of the guitarists will play with other guitarists at the same time,” he says. “Some of the guest musicians are amazing vocalists so it’s fun to mix and match the musicians.”
This time around he’ll also have some help, too. It’ll allow him to focus on performing with the rest of the musicians.
“The first two shows I was the the organizer, band director, emcee, and performer for some songs,” he says. “So I’m grateful to have a team of supporters help me with the show.”
They’re all very passionate about Vaughan’s work. At the second show, Filipovich was introduced to a very close friend of Vaughan’s. She invited him down to Austin, Texas to take part in the official Stevie Ray Vaughan Memorial Festival. Down there he was introduced to people who were part of the guitar legend’s inner circle, including family and friends.
“It was amazing. I never met him or saw him in person, but his closest friends were telling me so many fun stories about him and how nice he was,” he says. “I was really grateful to get to know them, hear their stories, and learn about how nice he was a person, not just as a musician.”