It's my first time in the USA. I've overslept after a night out in Chicago with some heavy duty blues types, missed my flight to Nashville, messed up my hotel reservation, and then given wrong directions. But I finally arrive. My mission is to see Idgy Vaughn--professional redhead, single mother, purveyor of "twisted Texamericana," late of Quincy, Illinois. She's appearing in a singer/songwriter set along with other young aspirants Buck Jones and fellow Austin belle Sunny Sweeny.
I enter the green room and there's Idgy, saying how cool all the others on stage are and how uncool she is; she's introducing the final song of the session, "Redbone Hound" the opening track on her debut, Origin Story. "I'm just a simple girl," she sings with a coy smile, "I been living in a much too complicated world." I'm hooked, the audience looks delighted, and any notion that Vaughn is uncool is blown away. No comparisons are needed, because her song stands alone.
The magic of that cameo hasn't dimmed one bit; its charm and precocious worldliness have only been refined over the course of many plays. Vaughn's stories draw heavily on her "wrong side of the tracks" past in Quincy (100 miles from anywhere), but these are not laments. They are celebrations of the possible, sung with humor and a sense of irony.
Standout tracks include "Draggin' The River," which sees a faithless lover come to grief, falling from a "Mississippi bridge seven stories tall," the Rosie Flores-flavored "Mister Wrong" which swings hard, the classic country feel of "Over You," and the funky, fiddle and percussion-fueled groove of "Attic Window."
On Origin Story, Vaughn is backed by a roll call of Austin's finest, including the venerable Redd Volkeart and Earl Poole Ball, Guy Forsyth, Rob Gjersoe, Cindy Cashdollar and Lloyd Maines. As engaging as these songs are, it is the stately but heavyhearted "Good Enough" that sets Origin Story a notch above promising. Propelled by silky B-3, strummed acoustic, and Maines' sweet pedal steel lines, Idgy testifies "I did not know the power you hold, 'til I held my own."
Vaughn's journey is the stuff tabloids are made of, but she tells her poignant story with grace, resilience, and wit. Idgy howlin' at the moon with her redbone hound. Now that would be something to see. • Michael Hansen