My introduction to the band of musicians that form the Texas Gentlemen was via Paul Cauthen’s excellent ‘My Gospel’ album. Browsing the credits, which is pretty refreshing to be able to do in this digital age, and the names of Beau Patrick Bedford, for his terrific production work, and guitarist Nik Lee stood out. Bedford is effectively the leader of The Texas Gentlemen a band of session musicians who’ve become go-to players for a host of artists including Joe Ely and Kris Kristofferson, which really tells you all you need to know about how good these guys are. With so many great players on tap, eleven Texas Gentlemen worked on ‘TX Jelly’ their debut album; you’re never quite sure who’ll turn up which is bound to keep things interesting
The Texas Gentlemen rocked up to Bush Hall in London as a quintet for the final night of a short UK jaunt, on which they've been making friends every step of the way, and proceeded to mix up pretty much every musical genre imaginable, while still sounded wonderfully cohesive. This isn’t an easy thing to do but these guys have chops to spare which helps. Opening with ‘Shape I’m In’ a nod to fellow studio rats The Band before slipping into a long instrumental that showcased serious 70’s jazzy guitar rock stylings, that wouldn’t be out of place on a Steely Dan or Santana record, Nik Lee found plenty of room to impress with his fluent tremolo guitar work. ‘Dream Along’ captured the more delicate and gentle side of the band which should have pleased the audience member who, good-naturedly, urged the band to “Play some country”. He must have been ecstatic when Nik Lee led the band through the Willie Nelson penned, and still totally classic, ‘Crazy’ later in the set.
The guys dipped into the ‘TX Jelly’ album for a run through of a crowd-pleasing ‘Habbie Doobie’ and Daniel Creamer led the band through ‘Pain’ and ‘Superstition’ which was jokingly referred to as “Not the Stevie Wonder tune” but did include the most bizarre lyric I’ve heard recently “ Do you believe ghosts can give you blowjobs”…Moving along quickly. ‘Superstition’ and new song ‘Skyway Streetcar’ highlighted Nik, Beau and Daniel’s quite superb CSN/Eagles style three-part harmonies while The Meters ‘Sissy Strut’ once again gave the guys room to stretch out. The interplay here between Creamer and Bedford’s keys and Lee’s guitar proved a real highlight of the set. The keyboard duo would strap on guitars, while hard-hitting drummer Aaron Haynes started to hit even harder, as the band launched a triple guitar assault on a jam based around ‘Shakin’ All Over’ that would’ve had the likes of Molly Hatchet and Lynyrd Skynyrd, in their prime, looking over their shoulders. An hour had just flown by and while ‘TX Jelly’ captures a moment in time it’ll be really interesting to see where The Texas Gentlemen go next. If I was Quentin Tarantino and needed a band for my next soundtrack I know who I’d call.
It would be remiss of me not to mention opening act Howard Rose who was a really pleasant surprise. Talent show TV watchers would be hard pushed to recognise Rose from 2015’s ‘The Voice’ where he was mentored by the legend that is Sir Tom Jones. Rose, thick of beard and with his long hair flying, impressed with his wide-ranging vocal ability, passionate delivery and a cool tune or three. Performing in a trio, Rose also handled electric guitar duties while his rhythm section adding some well-placed harmony vocals. The likes of ‘Movin’ On’ coupled with the tougher sound of this live performance seems, to me at least, to be the way to go for Howard Rose.