A chat with The Texas Gentlemen
A free-spirited bunch of musicians from Texas who've been backing some of the greats on the road, and their friends in the studio, have come together to form The Texas Gentlemen. Ahead of their first visit to the UK we spoke to Beau Bedford to see if he'd answer some questions. And he kindly did.
Hey Texas Gents, how the devil are you?
I think you’ve mistaken us for someone else, but I’m pretty sure he, the devil, is doing just fine. And we’re great, too!
What have you been up to today?
We are spread throughout our home state of Texas working on lots of albums.
What can you tell us about TX Jelly in two sentences?
TX Jelly is a captured 4 day moment in time for us, the Gents, making and recordings songs, completely uninhibited with our friends - Paul Cauthen, Dan Dyer, Kirby Brown, Noah Jackson, Jason Burt and Keite Young (Medicine Man Revival). The wheels were turning fast and loose, as we chased the light of music.
And what’s Habbie Doobie?
Like Willie Bobo’s 'Fried Neck Bones and Some Homefries' - 'Habbie Doobie' is the name to the song that’s our jam!
How did you choose to record it in FAME in Muscle Shoals?
We have all done a number of albums at FAME (among them - The Roomsounds’ Elm Street, Paul Cauthen’s My Gospel, Kirby Brown’s forthcoming Uncommon Prayer) and a few of us were scheduled to do another album, when the artist backed out last second. We had just come out of Newport Folk Festival, having played with Kris Kristofferson, Joe Ely and Terry Allen, and we were pretty hot as a group, so we thought let’s go have fun at FAME. The time was booked already for Studio A, and we went for Studio B too so that we could be working out of both rooms and maximizing our time.
Can you explain why you chose to cut the record live, and what difference that makes?
Haha, well, most of the record was cut live. We overdubbed a few background vocals and doubled some guitars, but I would say 90% was done live as a band. TX Jelly is loose when compared to modern studio albums. We chose to not use a click track either. We just set up mics, got the sounds, and started tracking, always pushing forwards, never working backwards. The album happened in a moment of time. If we did it again today, it would be completely different. In that way it’s a singular work of art as a large group. Something we were all a part of, but not one person was in control, and that’s what makes it special. The live element is the flawed human element that exists so earnestly in the album. It’s something we’re all proud of, not because it’s perfect, but because it is a reflection of who we all were in that one sweet moment of time in Muscle Shoals, AL.
You’ve backed some pretty cool people, who’ve you loved playing with?
We’ve been so blessed to run in some special circles coming from Texas - Kris Kristofferson, Terry Allen, Joe Ely and George Strait will always stand among some of the most special moments we’ve been able to share. But our friends we’ve backed are also so special - from Leon Bridges to the great, yet unkown Wesley Geiger (please check out Wesley Geiger’s El Dorado)
If people could only listen to one track from record, which would you suggest? And why?
Dream Along - written by Nik Lee. It’s one of the most powerful songs on the album lyrically, from the emotive vocal performance by Nik, to the understated band performance. The track is stunning.
What’s your approach to songwriting?
For the TX Jelly album - Each member of the band wrote individually. Now, Nik Lee and Dan Creamer are writing a ton together for our next album.
What’s so special about Bondurant women?
To answer the literal question you have to ask the writer, Noah Jackson. But I’ll answer for the band - Noah brought that song in and we were lucky enough to have been able to perform it with him. That song was cut completely live, including Noah’s vocals. Amongst the full band, we had Ryan Ake and Jeff Dazey on percussion live in the room which is such a huge element in the track. What is on the album is our 2nd full take of the song. It’s special in that it everyone’s first impression of the song, and it’s so full of life because of that.
When was the last time you were starstruck?
Personally (Beau Bedford speaking), meeting T Bone Burnett in Nashville. For whatever reason, I completely clamped up!
What’ve you got coming up in 2018?
Touring, festivals and recording our new album! Going to be a fun year!
You’re visiting the UK, which town are you looking forward too?
We’re stoked for all of them, but really looking forward to playing at Oran Mor in Glasgow, because our good friend Matthew Logan Vasquez (of Delta Spirit) will be in town while we are out there!
What’s your favourite town to tour in the US?
Outside of Dallas, we love our Nashville family. But Portland and Seattle have been great too!
Anywhere you can’t go back to?
What’s your most memorable tour moment so far?
Probably having Chris Robinson roll out to our show at the historic Warfield Theatre in San Francisco on Christmas Eve this year. Aside from being in a building that Jerry Garcia inhabited for so long, Chris came out with treats for the band, and we got to sit around listening to stories from one of the modern time’s rock n roll heroes.
If you could only listen to one song this week, what would it be?
'Fried Neck Bones and Some Homefries' by Willie Bobo
What’s the question we should have asked you today but haven’t?
If you could only listen to two songs this week, what would it be? and the answer would be:
'Fried Neck Bones and Some Homefries' by Willie Bobo
'El Dorado' by Wesley Geiger
Finally, how do you take your coffee?
You can catch The Texas Gentlemen on tour in the UK right now, and their album, TX Jelly is available to buy or stream from all the usual places. For more information on the band and their tour dates visit their website. You can also see what they're up to on Twitter and Facebook.