Stevie was born in Dallas, his remains are buried in Dallas, and his first shows were in Dallas. A photograph proves that his very first public performance was at Hill Theatre within Cockrell Hill city limits, so why is that fact not widely known or celebrated? If you ask the City of Cockrell Hill, and Mayor Luis Carrera, he’d probably say that what matters now, is that you’re invited to the recently inaugurated park.
On Saturday, April 21, at an all day event that included live music, US Congressman Veasey, Mayor Carrera, and city officials cut the symbolic ribbon to open the SRV park to the public. Congressman Veasey even took a moment during his speech to break into some lines from his favorite Stevie song. When asked to comment, Congressman stated “Stevie Ray Vaughn was a musical trailblazer who represented the Cockrell Hill community on an international stage. I grew up listening to his music and still to this day love it—that is why it was such an exciting honor to attend the grand opening of Stevie Ray Vaughan Park in the Cockrell Hill community. My hope is that this park brings people together just as Vaughn’s music did.”
The grand opening put on a display of the great organizational efforts of the City of Cockrell Hill. With tastefully decorated tables for the VIP section, the general public also enjoyed an unobstructed view of the stage as the ribbon cutting ceremony came to an end with a live guitar rendition of The Star Spangled Banner by none other than Tommy Katona and Texas Flood, the band that pays tribute to the blues and the music of Stevie Ray Vaughan, which, judging by the amount of Texas Flood t-shirts in the audience, was eagerly anticipated by attendees. Mr. Katona and his bandmates, Travis Montoya on drums and Steve Buckner on bass were particularly excited about being there. Despite playing dozens of shows every single month, and fresh off their tour in Tommy’s native Hungary just a week earlier, Katona stated “Playing here at this event is one of the highlights of what we’ve accomplished, being a Stevie fan, I love this opportunity”. Buckner anticipates the park will increase the recognition of Stevie Ray Vaughan’s name and he hopes it “encourages young people, who might not know who he is, and because of [this park] they discover his music”.
For this show, Texas Flood invited blues guitar phenom Wes Jeans to join him on stage, “Wes was the first musician I ever played with in Texas” Tommy stated. Wes, who has played with Stevie’s brother Jimmie Vaughan himself, said he hopes this park “will help people associate Stevie with Dallas, more so than Austin, because people need to be reminded that Stevie is from Dallas, he’s an Oak Cliff boy” and that “having this music venue helps nurture the arts in society and that is just as important as nurturing business” in this part of town. As far as the hopes that the city continues events at the park, Travis Montoya said “Hopefully the city will promote it and bring more events here, because events will bring more people”, Buckner and Katona added that the city should celebrate Stevie’s birthday with a show every year, and Texas Flood will always answer that call, shall the city make it an annual event.
Following Texas Flood’s performance, and echoing their sentiment, Jason Wickens, a rising Texas country artist, mentioned that he wants “this park will offer a platform: a hub for local talent to emerge from this community” With the inauguration of the park the city has set high expectations for themselves. Let’s hope that the park and the city honor its name, and having built the physical scenario, can now create a special gathering place. People passionate about Texas, and music, can find in this park, a way to honor SRV’s legacy and find a place to celebrate the State and the arts, in Cockrell Hill. The SRV Park is located in Cockrell Hill at the SE corner of Jefferson and Cockrell Hill Rd. If you want to drive by and check it out.