Doyle Bramhall II is an American musician, producer, guitarist and songwriter known for his work with Eric Clapton, Roger Waters, Sheryl Crow, Nora Jones and many others. He is the son of the songwriter and drummer Doyle Bramhall.
Bramhall grew up in Austin, Texas. By the age of 15, he was rubbing shoulders with the Vaughan brothers (“they were like family to me”) At 18, he was tapped by Jimmie Vaughan to join the Fabulous Thunderbirds, and two years later, following the tragic death of Stevie Ray Vaughan, he and fellow Austin guitar ace Charlie Sexton teamed with SRV’s Double Trouble rhythm section, drummer Chris Layton and bassist Tommy Shannon, to form the band Arc Angels. The band released a strong self-titled debut album in 1992 but broke up before they could record a follow-up. Bramhall then signed with Geffen Records and embarked on a solo career, issuing a pair of albums – Doyle Bramhall II(1996, Geffen Records) and Jellycream (1999, RCA) – that won the hearts of music critics as well as a couple of music icons – Roger Waters and Eric Clapton, who would soon call upon his services.
Bramhall played guitar and sang both lead and backup vocals during Roger Waters’ 1999-
2000 In the Fleshworld tour but his association with the Pink Floyd singer was cut short when he received a call from Eric Clapton. Bramhall recalls Eric admitting that he was a huge fan of his work, and going on the say that “’I’d love to get together with you because I’m making a record with B.B King.’”
That album would be 2000’s Riding with the King, Clapton’s Grammy-winning, double platinum duet recording with one of his biggest blues influences. Clapton not only featured Bramhall’s virtuosic playing on the album, but he also covered two of his favorite cuts from Jellycream, “Marry You” and “I Wanna Be.” “I was honored to play with Eric and B.B.,” Bramhall notes, “but to have Eric do a couple of my songs was thrilling beyond belief.”
Bramhall joined Clapton’s touring band as his fiery guitar foil and in the studio as a trusted and creative collaborator. Eventually, he graduated to co-producer on the albums Clapton (2010) and Old Sock (2013). While touring and recording with Clapton, Bramhall jetted around the globe to work with the numerous music stars who were now vying for his attention. Among them was Sheryl Crow – Bramhall co-produced and wrote songs for the singer’s 2011
album, 100 Miles from Memphis, and then joined her on tour (he also contributed shimmering guitar work on Crow’s Be Myself last year).
Bramhall returned to solo work with his self-produced album from 2016, Rich Man, on which he explored deeply personal themes and feelings in the wake of his father’s 2011 death in a series of songs that mixed white-hot blues rock, grooving Southern soul as well as some of the transfixing Middle Eastern sounds he’d absorbed in his travels to Morocco and India. Reviews for Rich Man were rhapsodic: American Blues Scene raved that the album was “generously filled with a multitude of aural pleasures and sonic landscapes that are full and vibrant.” And AllMusic opined that Bramhall’s “first album in 15 years is also his best… It starts expansive and keeps expanding.”
So what is it about this dynamic, multi-faceted performer – a southpaw who plays his guitar turned upside-down and strung righty, no less – that makes him the first-call pick for music stars of virtually every modern genre?
“One musical experience flowed into the next, and over time I’ve been able to work with so many people I’ve admired and who influenced me. If I can point to one thing, I think it’s because I immerse myself in the spirit of collaboration. I really want to understand where somebody else is coming from, and that makes me support and enhance what they’re doing. Perhaps that’s why other people want me to play with them. Nobody’s ever really told me why!”
will take the main stage at the Denton Arts and Jazz Festival on Saturday, April 24, 2021 at 9 pm