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, 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 2022 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 kicked off the new year with four Texas shows that brought
down the house.
“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.
Musical Backgrounds
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.
Charlie Sexton
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.
Chris Layton
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.