The Texas Gentlemen


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Sun 10/07

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Sometimes, authenticity can sneak up on you. The first sounds you hear on The Texas

Gentlemen's debut studio album, TX Jelly, is that of a band slowly coming together.

It's deceptive, because it creates the impression these Gentlemen might be hesitant

about their first record, but any hint of uncertainty vanishes as the core quintet - Beau

Bedford, Nik Lee, Daniel Creamer, Matt McDonald, Ryan Ake, and Scott Lee - tears

into the opening track, Habbie Doobie, a low-slung piece of vintage country-funk that

slams out of the speakers and announces The Texas Gentlemen as a force to be

reckoned with.

This Lone Star-bred collective takes its cues from some of the iconic acts of the past

- the quicksilver brilliance of The Wrecking Crew, The Muscle Shoals Swampers (who

backed everyone from Aretha to Wilson Pickett), Booker T. and The M.G.'s, and Bob

Dylan's one-time backers The Band are the most obvious examples. Bedford, who

shares chief engineering and producing responsibilities at Dallas' Modern Electric

Sound Recorders, assembled The Texas Gentlemen as an all-purpose backing band

for an incredible array of artists including George Strait, Ed Sheeran, Leon Bridges,

Shakey Graves, Shawn Mendes, Jim James of My Morning Jacket, Ray Wylie

Hubbard, Ray Benson, Joe Ely (who described them as "the best backing band I have

ever played with. Seriously.") and many more.

In 2016, the Gentlemen were lured out of the studio to the Newport Folk Festival,

where they were joined by iconic troubadour Kris Kristofferson, making his first

Newport appearance in more than 45 years. Rolling Stone called it one of the festival's

"most exciting sets."

Kristofferson so enjoyed collaborating with The Texas Gentlemen that he enlisted them

to reprise their roles in a series of critically acclaimed Texas concerts. Of Kristofferson

and The Texas Gentlemen's appearance at Bass Performance Hall in Fort Worth,

music critic Preston Jones wrote "The [instruments] would slowly coalesce around

Kristofferson's gnarled but still potent voice, creating an electric sensation of the past

fusing with the present."

That deft fusion of before and right now is possible thanks to the musicians'

unswerving dedication to simply playing to the best of their abilities, trusting their

instincts, and letting the music guide them. Case in point: TX Jelly was created in less

than a week - four days, start to finish - at Muscle Shoals' singular FAME Studios.

Pared down from the 28 songs the Gentlemen recorded in that 96-hour span, TX Jelly

effortlessly connects way back to what's next, summoning the spirits of American

songcraft even as it heralds the arrival of 21st century talent. Cut live, with little use for

the blinding polish and careful presentation of so much modern music, TX Jelly oozes

with skill backed up by that hard-won authenticity.

TX Jelly moves between contemplative and raucous, encompassing the full breadth of

the American experience. The music touches on blues, soul, folk, country, rock and

gospel - from first track to last, you can feel The Texas Gentlemen reaching deep

inside themselves and finding what's genuine - what illuminates the truth of the

country's rich, complicated and singular artistic history - and delivering it the only way

they know how: real, raw and righteous.