The Arc Angels & Friends
Formed in the musical hotbed of Austin, Texas, the Arc Angels consist of some of the finest musical talents to ever play an instrument. With a devoted and adoring fan base, the Arc Angels are known as a tremendous band with an equally tremendous story. That story began in 1992 after the devastating loss of their friend and fellow musician Stevie Ray Vaughan. The miracle that came from that loss was the unique sound of four musicians aptly named – The Arc Angels: drummer Chris Layton and bassist Tommy Shannon (the veteran rhythm section of Stevie Ray Vaughan’s Double Trouble) coupled with musical wonders Charlie Sexton and Doyle Bramhall II sharing lead vocal and lead guitar duties.
The foundation of the Arc Angels was laid at the Austin Rehearsal Center (ARC) which so aptly gave them a name. There, Sexton had a writing room to work on his next solo album, Bramhall was working under a development deal with Geffen Records, and Layton had a drum room where he would often practice. The initial idea had been quite simple; create a band that can jam when people happened to be in town or not on tour with Stevie. But Vaughan’s death changed everything. When the foursome came together, the press were quick to dub them a “Texas supergroup,” but the guys shunned that tag. The band was purely a musical outlet and inspiration to all of them.
Not intending to be a recording band, the guys played live and just for fun, opening for the likes of Robert Cray. But they soon found the excitement and challenges of being a band, worth the effort. Sexton and Bramhall tabled their solo projects and began creating music specifically for the Arc Angels.
The band’s 1992 debut album release, Arc Angels, produced by Steven Van Zandt on Geffen Records met with much critical acclaim and managed to break onto the Billboard Top 200 chart. The sound was unique — raw and intense rock and roll steeped in the roots of Texas blues, but still radio-friendly and widely appealing. The group toured heavily after the album and on Tuesday, June 9, 1992, the Arc Angels made their network television debut on the NBC show “The Late Show with David Letterman” where they performed “Living In A Dream”. On Wednesday, January 6, 1993, they again performed on Letterman’s show, this time playing “Too Many Ways to Fall”. It seemed that this Texas quartet was poised to explode onto the national scene.
But their name proved a harbinger of things to come; The Arc Angels fell as quickly as they rose. Creative differences, heavy touring, and Bramhall’s admitted descent into a deep, and nearly deadly, heroin addiction caused the breakup of the band in 1994. The Arc Angels came to an abrupt halt in October of that year with a series of farewell concerts at Austin’s Backyard outdoor venue.
They each followed their individual paths from there. Bramhall went on to solo projects as well as touring with Roger Waters and Eric Clapton‘s band. Sexton made two critically acclaimed solo albums, toured with Bob Dylan, and has produced numerous high profile artist projects. Meanwhile, Layton recorded three albums with the Texas soul quintet Storyville and has backed such artists as Kenny Wayne Shepherd, Buddy Guy and John Mayer.
Fast forward to 2020 and once again the stars have aligned to bring the band back together moving forward with a new bass player, as Tommy Shannon had made the decision to retire from performing on stage, the band has scheduled four Texas shows in January 2022.
“The stars kind of aligned once again. The band’s back together and we’re doing some new things,” said Layton.
“We’re trying to take advantage and savor the good things and one of the good things is the Arc Angels,” added Charlie Sexton.
All Texas-born, none of these band members accidentally fell into music. It is part of their collective DNA.
Doyle Bramhall II
Saying that he was born with the blues in his blood is no exaggeration. Doyle Bramhall Sr. played drums and sang with Jimmie Vaughan (older brother to Stevie) with The Chessmen in the late 60’s and later with Stevie in The Nightcrawlers. In the early 1970’s, the Vaughan’s and the Bramhall’s lived together sharing musical talents in a big Austin home. Although he started on drums, Bramhall switched to guitar at 14 when his father gave him a vintage Harmony Rocket presented to Doyle Sr. years earlier by the legendary Lightning Hopkins. Playing the guitar left-handed, Bramhall went from playing in clubs at the young age of 15 to performing on stage alongside the likes of Eric Clapton, Roger Waters and Sheryl Crow.
Sexton was quickly considered a child prodigy when he picked up the guitar at age 4 and began performing onstage at age 11. He became Joe Ely’s lead guitarist at age 13, was touring at 15 opening for The Clash, and made a solo debut album at age 17. Both the album and the single, “Beats So Lonely” were Top 20 Hits. Touring the world followed, including a tour with Bowie, and later recording with greats such as Bob Dylan, Don Henley, and The Rolling Stones’ Keith Richards and Ron Woods. Sexton has also developed a strong career as a producer, working on numerous high-profile albums for artists such as Lucinda William, Marc Cohn, Edie Brickell and Peter Elkas.
A staple on the Austin music scene since 1975, Layton made his mark as part of the hugely successful Stevie Ray Vaughan rhythm section Double Trouble. His talents have led him to recording and touring with Austin-based Storyville and more recently Kenny Wayne Shepherd and in 2015 Layton and Shannon were inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame with Stevie Ray Vaughan & Double Trouble.
Concerts 4 Austin Charities
Concerts 4 Austin Charities (C4AC) was formed in 2015 after co-producing the well received Give Hope Concert for Dell Children’s Blood and Cancer Center, it was formally incorporated in 2017 and became a not for profit operating under the umbrella of the Austin Community Foundation in 2018.
C4AC produces multiple music events each year, including the immensely successful Austin Cares Concerts featuring Lukas Nelson and The Promise of the Real and Doyle Bramhall II & Friends in 2019 and 2020 respectively. For more information, please visit www.concerts4ac.com.