After Dallas came West Texas, pulling cotton by day, playing guitar by night. Hargrove was one of the last of the traveling musician-pickers, once a dependable feature on the West Texas landscape. It was the early Fifties, and Hargrove played to eager fieldhands all over Texas and New Mexico. Yet it was in Phoenix, Arizona, that he played his first electric guitar, taught to him by a man named Willie Thornton.
Hargrove stuck around long enough to learn to play like his man Lightnin' and before long he was gigging around Phoenix with Thornton, playing amplified takes on the country blues he had grown up with. It was those electrified country blues -- known as "transitional blues" in some camps -- that Hargrove brought back to Central Texas in 1956, settling on Austin's Eastside, where the nightlife was jumping.Hargrove's music reflected his journey, from acoustic country roots to the electric city life, but it never took on the urban polish of a B.B. King or T-Bone Walker, who brought swingin' horns and a chart-reading sophistication to their own country blues. Instead, Hargrove stuck with the standard three-piece of Texas' early electric blues -- two guitars and drums, or alternately, guitar, bass, and drums -- playing Eastside clubs like the IL and the Victory Grill and establishing himself on the small-town Texas circuit.
In the 40 years since, he's been a fixture on the Austin blues scene, laying down his transitional sound and taking time to school a few of the younger players who have come searching for the real thing. Like Jimmie Vaughan, for instance, who looked up Hargrove when he first came to town (pre-Storm, pre-Thunderbirds), learning at Hargrove's side. The two teamed up and started playing together, traveling the circuit and surprising a few of Hargrove's regular fans.
In interviews, both Jimmie and his brother Stevie Ray acknowledged Hargrove's influence on their style. In fact, when Jimmie Vaughan first got the Fabulous Thunderbirds together, he asked Hargrove to join as a vocalist, but Hargrove declined. Eddie Stout,the owner/founder of Austin's independent blues label Dialtone Records, recently signed to Hargrove to Dialtone in 2010 and new release; "Tex Golden Nugget' electric guitar, an ancient beat up amplifier, and 80 years of experience living and playing the blues.