The Texas Gentlemen Hold Their Own With Homegrown 'Tx Jelly' at SXSW
As ace studio musicians, the Texas Gentlemen have been on something of a learning curve since putting the band together about three years ago. But a number of performances during South By Southwest this week -- including a steaming 45-minute show to close the New West Records showcase in the wee hours of Saturday morning (March 17) at Antone’s -- attested to the progress the sextet has made.
After playing as part of a tribute to the late Texas songwriter Blaze Foley earlier in the evening, the Gentlemen, in mostly matching band shirts, started with a keyboardist Beau Bedford’s simple salutation: "We're glad to be here!" The audience felt the same way over the course of the eight songs the group played, a set of expansive, jammy pieces that nodded at times towards the Swampers, the Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section, Dixie Dregs and The Band, among others.
The group even covered the latter’s “The Shape I’m In,” while the set-closing combination of Link Wray’s “Rumble” and Johnny Kidd & the Pirates’ “Shakin’ All Over” should certainly be in contention for one of SXSW’s finest, and fiercest, musical moments.
The Gentlemen’s original repertoire from their 2017 album TX Jelly held up -- the funky "Pain," the muscular "Habbi Doobie," the slow-building "Dream Along" -- as did a brand new song, “Skyway Street Car.” All of the material spoke to a band that’s become more outwardly confident and more musically intuitive and dialed-in. There wasn’t really much in the way of gentility, of course, but the passion and fire of the playing rendered that unnecessary.