On the Jimmy Reed Highway

Omar Kent Dykes & Jimmie Vaughan

Like Chuck Berry and Bo Diddley, Jimmy Reed had an instantly recognizable sound. His slurred vocals and laid-back tempos were an essential part of the ’50s music scene and his unique songs—such as “Big Boss Man” and “Baby, What You Want Me to Do?”—are still being performed. In fact, back in 1956 he had five hit records compared with Muddy Waters’ two; that’s how popular he was. Simple, singable and danceable—those are the primary characteristics of Reed’s music and they form the foundation that Omar Kent Dykes (whose main band is Omar and the Howlers) and Jimmie Vaughan (brother of you-know-who and co-founder of the Fabulous Thunderbirds) have built on. Aided on several songs by a handful of guests that include Texas songstress Lou Ann Barton and a stellar cast of harpmen—Kim Wilson, James Cotton, Delbert McClinton and the late Gary Primich—Dykes and Vaughan deliver the goods on nine Reed songs, one by Eddie Taylor (Reed’s longtime partner and musical anchor) and a loving, lilting tribute by Dykes to his late wife with stunning harmonica by Primich. Other highlights include a very relaxed “Caress Me Baby” with killer harp by Cotton, and the Dykes-penned title track.