Sir Woman

Sir Woman, Austin Music Award’s Best New Act of 2020, was primed to hit the road promoting its much-anticipated debut album Party City, when the world changed.

With fewer reasons to celebrate, soul-singer Kelsey Wilson (Wild Child, Glorietta) ditched the party vibe she planned for her maiden, solo debut in favor of a more aptly titled record for troubled times.

Bitch, a genre-bending, Motown-influenced five-song EP, came out Oct. 16, 2020 under Wilson’s acid-trip inspired stage name on Austin’s Nine Mile Records.

Wilson’s backing band — drummer Amber Baker (Jon Batiste) and back-up singers Spice and Roy Jr. — were joined on the album by guitarist Nik Lee and multi- instrumentalist Dan Creamer (Shakey Graves, The Texas Gentlemen), and critically acclaimed country-pop artist Robert Ellis.

But make no mistake, the Wild Child co-founder has stepped into the spotlight alone with this collection of love songs she wrote for herself as the perpetual party of touring life started to spin out of control.

“This EP is me finding what makes me feel good and falling in love with myself. A mix of everything that makes my body move — pop, soul, gospel, funk, folk, and R&B. It feels so right to make a record that has my actual heart in it,” Wilson said. “These songs are the part of me that wants to help people fall in love with themselves through music. I can’t wait for everyone to hear it.”

World Café’ declared “warmth, empathy and humor are the shining stars” of the EP’s first track, “Highroad,” which earned a slot on NPR’s “Heavy Rotation: 9 Songs Public Radio Can’t Stop Playing.”

Consider that evidence Wilson is “moving effortlessly into a brave new R&B-infused, gospel-flecked world where her golden pipes ease you back into a fluffy pillow of serenity and bliss,” NPR critic Gini Moscorro proclaimed.

In some ways, the EP’s title track, “Bitch,” set for an Oct. 1 release, took on new meaning after the world shut down.

When Wilson belts, “You’ve been a bitch, baby,” it’s as if a year at the crossroads of coronavirus crisis and national civil unrest is the unintended target of the soul-singer’s angsty honesty.

The Texas Gentlemen

Pop on Floor It!!!, the new and second full-length effort from the Texas Gentlemen, and prepare your eardrums to be hit with everything from woozy, brass-fueled Dixieland-style jazz (“Veal Cutlass”), to slinky, chicken-scratch country funk (“Bare Maximum”) to lushly orchestrated pop-soul balladry (“Ain’t Nothin’ New”)—and that’s all in just the first 10 minutes of play time. 

As for how the Texas quintet manages to slide so seamlessly between various styles and sounds? Well, these are no ordinary Gents. Rather, the members—co-singers and frontmen Nik Lee and Daniel Creamer (who also handle guitar and keys, respectively); guitarist Ryan Ake; bassist Scott Edgar Lee, Jr.; and drummer Aaron Haynes (who since the recording has been replaced by Paul Grass)—have spent the last half-decade or so logging thousands of hours of stage and studio time behind a wide array of artists, from legends including Kris Kristofferson, George Strait and Joe Ely to young whippersnappers like Leon Bridges and Shakey Graves. 

And while some people (okay, many people) have whispered in one another’s ears and written kind words about how this crack outfit of stage and studio aces is nothing less than the second coming of celebrated backing units like the Wrecking Crew, the Swampers and one-time Bob Dylan associates the Band, you certainly didn’t hear it from the Gents themselves. “We never instigated or condoned any of that,” Nik Lee says, and then lets out a self-effacing laugh. “We definitely appreciate the comparisons…we just don’t think they’re accurate.” 

And anyway, no matter how many artists they’ve played with onstage or in the studio—and trust us, there’s a whole lot of ‘em—they are, first and foremost, their own (gentle)men. “We’re a group of five, and when you hear us play you’re hearing the influence of five different musicians

working together as one unit,” Daniel Creamer says. “Everyone has the freedom to suss out their parts and do the thing that fulfills their creative spirit, but at the same time there’s trust in one another to always be serving the song.” 

And what songs they are. Floor It!!! follows the Texas Gentlemen’s 2018 debut, TX Jelly; but where that first record, cut in four days start to finish at Muscle Shoals’ iconic FAME Studios, was very much a snapshot of a quick moment in time, the new effort is a decidedly more composed and crafted affair. “The vibe of the first one was, ‘Let’s just do this thing!’ ” Creamer says. “But this time it was like, ‘We have this idea about what we want to accomplish…’ ” 

What they did accomplish is, to put it mildly, pretty impressive. While the Gentlemen’s sound is clearly steeped in the classic roots, rock and pop music of the ‘60s and ‘70s, there’s a dreamy (the lilting “Sing Me to Sleep”), spacey (“Skyway Streetcar”) and occasionally progressive (the groovy instrumental journey “Dark at the End of the Tunnel”) element to what they do that seems to detach the music from belonging to any particular place and time. 

Add in elements of funk, soul, country, r&b, southern rock, gospel (“just about all of us played in churches early on,” Lee affirms) and essentially any other style that catches their musically omnivorous ears; an expansive and detailed approach to arrangement that sees the songs adorned with all manner of horns, strings and heavenly background vocals (cue up the positively gorgeous “Hard Road” for an almost religious experience); and a healthy dose of wit (there’s that song title, “Veal Cutlass,” again) and weirdness (the little lady on a jet, seated next to a military vet, who receives intel of impending nuclear doom on the Little Feat-meets-T. Rex-rocking title track), and you have a collection of tunes that is more than just a mere album. Rather, Floor It!!! is a rich and righteous ride. 

And while that ride took decidedly longer to complete than the four days spent on the Gent’s first recordthey recorded Floor It!!! primarily at EchoLab Studios in Denton, Texas, with producer Matt Pence, who Lee describes in no uncertain terms as a “wizard”—it was still a largely organic affair. “We all have pretty good grips on what we’re supposed to do, so a lot of it

was tracked live in the studio, with as few overdubs as possible,” Lee says. “We like to have it where everybody’s just vibing together in one room.” 

Adds Creamer, “The stuff you hear on the record is pretty fresh and spontaneous. It’s not like we did a hundred takes of a song. We tend to just get a melody and follow it in a way that makes sense to us.” 

That intuitive connection is hardly surprising given the fact that the bonds between the band members stretch back, in some cases, to the days before they were even Gentlemen. “For years even before we started the band, Daniel and I and a couple of the other guys all lived together in a big Brady Bunch house in Duncanville, just outside of Dallas,” Lee says. “We’d just sit around and fiddle with stuff and it always worked really well. It was never forced.” 

Regarding the songwriting partnership between he and Creamer, Lee continues, “There’s never any hiccups in the process. I think it’s because we’ve had a lot of the same experiences—we’ve worked together on different sessions over the years and we know a lot of the same people, so we’re pretty fluent in our ideas and opinions.” He laughs. “Like, if we wanted to take a jab at somebody in a song without letting on, we could do it pretty easily—‘cause we’d both know right away who it is.” 

“We both just like to nerd out a little bit with melodies and arrangements,” says Creamer. “We try to find something that tickles the ear a little bit and goes the extra mile, you know?” 

So when it all comes down to it, what, exactly, is the Texas Gentlemen? “If somebody were to ask me that, I would say first and foremost that we’re a group of friends,” Creamer continues. “And because of that, there’s no limits on the music we create together. We like to have fun and do funky stuff and we like to rock and we like to jam. Sometimes that takes us into country music, sometimes it takes us into soul, sometimes into some progressive things. It can be all kinds of places. There’s no constraints on what we do.”

As for how Lee would describe the Gents? “I think it was said best by a guy on BBC radio,” he responds. “We were on tour in Europe, and we’re driving to the airport and the DJ comes on and he clears his throat and he goes, ‘Okay, up next we have a Texas boogie band called the Texas Gentlemen.’ So that’s what I like to say: we’re a Texas boogie band! 

“But really,” Lee continues, “this band is less about a style and more just a way of life. The music that we’re playing can change at any given moment—we just kind of go with the flow. When it comes down to it, we just want to have a good ol‘ time.” 

And so, dear listener, should you. And in that department the Texas Gentlemen have got you covered. Just grab a hot-off-the-presses copy of their latest record, slap it on your nearest hi-fi, drop the needle on the grooves and Floor It!!

Click here for COVID-19 Safety Protocols

Pop on Floor It!!!, the new and second full-length effort from the Texas Gentlemen, and prepare your eardrums to be hit with everything from woozy, brass-fueled Dixieland-style jazz (“Veal Cutlass”), to slinky, chicken-scratch country funk (“Bare Maximum”) to lushly orchestrated pop-soul balladry (“Ain’t Nothin’ New”)—and that’s all in just the first 10 minutes of play time.

As for how the Texas quintet manages to slide so seamlessly between various styles and sounds? Well, these are no ordinary Gents. Rather, the members—co-singers and frontmen Nik Lee and Daniel Creamer (who also handle guitar and keys, respectively); guitarist Ryan Ake; bassist Scott Edgar Lee, Jr.; and drummer Aaron Haynes (who since the recording has been replaced by Paul Grass)—have spent the last half-decade or so logging thousands of hours of stage and studio time behind a wide array of artists, from legends including Kris Kristofferson, George Strait and Joe Ely to young whippersnappers like Leon Bridges and Shakey Graves.

And while some people (okay, many people) have whispered in one another’s ears and written kind words about how this crack outfit of stage and studio aces is nothing less than the second coming of celebrated backing units like the Wrecking Crew, the Swampers and one-time Bob Dylan associates the Band, you certainly didn’t hear it from the Gents themselves. “We never instigated or condoned any of that,” Nik Lee says, and then lets out a self-effacing laugh. “We definitely appreciate the comparisons…we just don’t think they’re accurate.”
And anyway, no matter how many artists they’ve played with onstage or in the studio—and trust us, there’s a whole lot of ‘em—they are, first and foremost, their own (gentle)men. “We’re a group of five, and when you hear us play you’re hearing the influence of five different musicians working  together as one unit,” Daniel Creamer says. “Everyone has the freedom to suss out their parts and do the thing that fulfills their creative spirit, but at the same time there’s trust in one another to always be serving the song.”

And what songs they are. Floor It!!! follows the Texas Gentlemen’s 2018 debut, TX Jelly; but where that first record, cut in four days start to finish at Muscle Shoals’ iconic FAME Studios, was very much a snapshot of a quick moment in time, the new effort is a decidedly more composed and crafted affair. “The vibe of the first one was, ‘Let’s just do this thing!’ ” Creamer says. “But this time it was like, ‘We have this idea about what we want to accomplish…’ ”

What they did accomplish is, to put it mildly, pretty impressive. While the Gentlemen’s sound is clearly steeped in the classic roots, rock and pop music of the ‘60s and ‘70s, there’s a dreamy (the lilting “Sing Me to Sleep”), spacey “Skyway Streetcar”) and occasionally progressive (the groovy instrumental journey “Dark at the End of the Tunnel”) element to what they do that seems to detach the music from belonging to any particular place and time.
Add in elements of funk, soul, country, r&b, southern rock, gospel (“just about all of us played in churches early on,” Lee affirms) and essentially any other style that catches their musically omnivorous ears; an expansive and detailed approach to arrangement that sees the songs adorned with all manner of horns, strings and heavenly background vocals (cue up the positively gorgeous “Hard Road” for an almost religious experience); and a healthy dose of wit (there’s that song title, “Veal Cutlass,” again) and weirdness (the little lady on a jet, seated next to a military vet, who receives intel of impending nuclear doom on the Little Feat-meets-T. Rex-rocking title track), and you have a collection of tunes that is more than just a mere album. Rather, Floor It!!! is a rich and righteous ride.

And while that ride took decidedly longer to complete than the four days spent on the Gent’s first record—they recorded Floor It!!! primarily at EchoLab Studios in Denton, Texas, with producer Matt Pence, who Lee describes in no uncertain terms as a “wizard”—it was still a largely organic affair. “We all have pretty good grips on what we’re supposed to do, so a lot of it was tracked live in the studio, with as few overdubs as possible,” Lee says. “We like to have it where everybody’s just vibing together in one room.”

Adds Creamer, “The stuff you hear on the record is pretty fresh and spontaneous. It’s not like we did a hundred takes of a song. We tend to just get a melody and follow it in a way that makes sense to us.”

That intuitive connection is hardly surprising  given the fact that the bonds between the band members stretch back, in some cases, to the days before they were even Gentlemen. “For years even before we started the band, Daniel and I and a couple of the other guys all lived together in a big Brady Bunch house in Duncanville, just outside of Dallas,” Lee says. “We’d just sit around and fiddle with stuff and it always worked really well. It was never forced.”

Regarding the songwriting partnership between he and Creamer, Lee continues, “There’s never any hiccups in the process. I think it’s because we’ve had a lot of the same experiences—we’ve worked together on different sessions over the years and we know a lot of the same people, so we’re pretty fluent in our ideas and opinions.” He laughs. “Like, if we wanted to take a jab at somebody in a song without letting on, we could do it pretty easily—‘cause we’d both know right away who it is.”

“We both just like to nerd out a little bit with melodies and arrangements,” says Creamer. “We try to find something that tickles the ear a little bit and goes the extra mile, you know?”

So when it all comes down to it, what, exactly, is the Texas Gentlemen? “If somebody were to ask
me that, I would say first and foremost that we’re a group of friends,” Creamer continues. “And because of that, there’s no limits on the music we create together. We like to have fun and do funky stuff and we like to rock and we like to jam. Sometimes that takes us into country music, sometimes it takes us into soul, sometimes into some progressive things. It can be all kinds of places. There’s no constraints on what we do.”

As for how Lee would describe the Gents? “I think it was said best by a guy on BBC radio,” he responds. “We were on tour in Europe, and we’re driving to the airport and the DJ comes on and
he clears his throat and he goes, ‘Okay, up next we have a Texas boo-gie band called the Texas
Gentlemen.’ So that’s what I like to say: we’re a Texas boogie band!

“But really,” Lee continues, “this band is less about a style and more just a way of life. The music that we’re playing can change at any given moment—we just kind of go with the flow. When it comes down to it, we just want to have a good ol‘ time.”

And so, dear listener, should you. And in that department the Texas Gentlemen have got you covered. Just grab a hot-off-the-presses copy of their latest record, slap it on your nearest hi-fi, drop the needle on the grooves and Floor It!!!

Click here for COVID-19 Safety Protocols

Pop on Floor It!!!, the new and second full-length effort from the Texas Gentlemen, and prepare your eardrums to be hit with everything from woozy, brass-fueled Dixieland-style jazz (“Veal Cutlass”), to slinky, chicken-scratch country funk (“Bare Maximum”) to lushly orchestrated pop-soul balladry (“Ain’t Nothin’ New”)—and that’s all in just the first 10 minutes of play time.

As for how the Texas quintet manages to slide so seamlessly between various styles and sounds? Well, these are no ordinary Gents. Rather, the members—co-singers and frontmen Nik Lee and Daniel Creamer (who also handle guitar and keys, respectively); guitarist Ryan Ake; bassist Scott Edgar Lee, Jr.; and drummer Aaron Haynes (who since the recording has been replaced by Paul Grass)—have spent the last half-decade or so logging thousands of hours of stage and studio time behind a wide array of artists, from legends including Kris Kristofferson, George Strait and Joe Ely to young whippersnappers like Leon Bridges and Shakey Graves.

And while some people (okay, many people) have whispered in one another’s ears and written kind words about how this crack outfit of stage and studio aces is nothing less than the second coming of celebrated backing units like the Wrecking Crew, the Swampers and one-time Bob Dylan associates the Band, you certainly didn’t hear it from the Gents themselves. “We never instigated or condoned any of that,” Nik Lee says, and then lets out a self-effacing laugh. “We definitely appreciate the comparisons…we just don’t think they’re accurate.”
And anyway, no matter how many artists they’ve played with onstage or in the studio—and trust us, there’s a whole lot of ‘em—they are, first and foremost, their own (gentle)men. “We’re a group of five, and when you hear us play you’re hearing the influence of five different musicians working  together as one unit,” Daniel Creamer says. “Everyone has the freedom to suss out their parts and do the thing that fulfills their creative spirit, but at the same time there’s trust in one another to always be serving the song.”

And what songs they are. Floor It!!! follows the Texas Gentlemen’s 2018 debut, TX Jelly; but where that first record, cut in four days start to finish at Muscle Shoals’ iconic FAME Studios, was very much a snapshot of a quick moment in time, the new effort is a decidedly more composed and crafted affair. “The vibe of the first one was, ‘Let’s just do this thing!’ ” Creamer says. “But this time it was like, ‘We have this idea about what we want to accomplish…’ ”

What they did accomplish is, to put it mildly, pretty impressive. While the Gentlemen’s sound is clearly steeped in the classic roots, rock and pop music of the ‘60s and ‘70s, there’s a dreamy (the lilting “Sing Me to Sleep”), spacey “Skyway Streetcar”) and occasionally progressive (the groovy instrumental journey “Dark at the End of the Tunnel”) element to what they do that seems to detach the music from belonging to any particular place and time.
Add in elements of funk, soul, country, r&b, southern rock, gospel (“just about all of us played in churches early on,” Lee affirms) and essentially any other style that catches their musically omnivorous ears; an expansive and detailed approach to arrangement that sees the songs adorned with all manner of horns, strings and heavenly background vocals (cue up the positively gorgeous “Hard Road” for an almost religious experience); and a healthy dose of wit (there’s that song title, “Veal Cutlass,” again) and weirdness (the little lady on a jet, seated next to a military vet, who receives intel of impending nuclear doom on the Little Feat-meets-T. Rex-rocking title track), and you have a collection of tunes that is more than just a mere album. Rather, Floor It!!! is a rich and righteous ride.

And while that ride took decidedly longer to complete than the four days spent on the Gent’s first record—they recorded Floor It!!! primarily at EchoLab Studios in Denton, Texas, with producer Matt Pence, who Lee describes in no uncertain terms as a “wizard”—it was still a largely organic affair. “We all have pretty good grips on what we’re supposed to do, so a lot of it was tracked live in the studio, with as few overdubs as possible,” Lee says. “We like to have it where everybody’s just vibing together in one room.”

Adds Creamer, “The stuff you hear on the record is pretty fresh and spontaneous. It’s not like we did a hundred takes of a song. We tend to just get a melody and follow it in a way that makes sense to us.”

That intuitive connection is hardly surprising  given the fact that the bonds between the band members stretch back, in some cases, to the days before they were even Gentlemen. “For years even before we started the band, Daniel and I and a couple of the other guys all lived together in a big Brady Bunch house in Duncanville, just outside of Dallas,” Lee says. “We’d just sit around and fiddle with stuff and it always worked really well. It was never forced.”

Regarding the songwriting partnership between he and Creamer, Lee continues, “There’s never any hiccups in the process. I think it’s because we’ve had a lot of the same experiences—we’ve worked together on different sessions over the years and we know a lot of the same people, so we’re pretty fluent in our ideas and opinions.” He laughs. “Like, if we wanted to take a jab at somebody in a song without letting on, we could do it pretty easily—‘cause we’d both know right away who it is.”

“We both just like to nerd out a little bit with melodies and arrangements,” says Creamer. “We try to find something that tickles the ear a little bit and goes the extra mile, you know?”

So when it all comes down to it, what, exactly, is the Texas Gentlemen? “If somebody were to ask
me that, I would say first and foremost that we’re a group of friends,” Creamer continues. “And because of that, there’s no limits on the music we create together. We like to have fun and do funky stuff and we like to rock and we like to jam. Sometimes that takes us into country music, sometimes it takes us into soul, sometimes into some progressive things. It can be all kinds of places. There’s no constraints on what we do.”

As for how Lee would describe the Gents? “I think it was said best by a guy on BBC radio,” he responds. “We were on tour in Europe, and we’re driving to the airport and the DJ comes on and
he clears his throat and he goes, ‘Okay, up next we have a Texas boo-gie band called the Texas
Gentlemen.’ So that’s what I like to say: we’re a Texas boogie band!

“But really,” Lee continues, “this band is less about a style and more just a way of life. The music that we’re playing can change at any given moment—we just kind of go with the flow. When it comes down to it, we just want to have a good ol‘ time.”

And so, dear listener, should you. And in that department the Texas Gentlemen have got you covered. Just grab a hot-off-the-presses copy of their latest record, slap it on your nearest hi-fi, drop the needle on the grooves and Floor It!!!

We were on the road somewhere in New England in early 2017, when the topic of conversation drifted toward the troubled social climate in the country. We all shared a sadness that bordered on despair at the relentless stream of unsettling news of corruption, social injustice, and an overall lack of moral decency.  We related similar experiences with how divisiveness was affecting those around us, how families were being torn apart over political and social issues. Eventually the weight of it all left us feeling quite solemn and the conversation trailed off — we returned to our thoughts and personal reflection as we rolled up the interstate. After a long period of silence, we felt like we needed to lighten the mood, and nothing heals the soul quite like music…

Trevor went to an obscure and out-of-print Ray Charles album that he had ripped from vinyl to mp3 to listen to on the road, A Message From The People…how appropriate.  Some of us were vaguely familiar with the context of this record — that it was released in the early 70’s (April ’72) during a time of great social upheaval in America. Nixon, Vietnam, race riots, protests in almost every major city…the country had fallen on some hard times.  Just by glancing at the LP’s artwork it’s easy to deduce that Ray had a message in mind when he made this record. The cover is a painting of Ray in a reflective pose next to a group of children with different ethnicities. They all sit beneath a Mt. Rushmore-like image with the faces of Bobby Kennedy, Abe Lincoln, Martin Luther King, Jr. and JFK.  With the first notes of the opening track “Lift Every Voice And Sing”, Ray had our undivided attention. Often referred to as the Black National Anthem, Ray’s genius is in full flight from the get-go, singing with incredible jubilation and hope, hitting us like a ton of bricks. It seemed like Ray had picked up where our conversation had trailed off just moments before…we were really LISTENING. The second track, “Seems Like I Gotta Do Wrong”, he sings with such a powerful sentiment of loneliness and helplessness — the plight of many in society who are forgotten or ignored. We remained silent, intently listening and reflecting on the meaning of every word he sang. Halfway through the record a couple of us were in tears. The messages in each song that Ray had carefully selected back in 1972 rang as true today as they did during the turbulent times they were initially released. In these moments, Ray’s voice became the voice of an elder — a true master was speaking to us from the past.  There is sorrow, protest, and anger but also resolve, hope, and deliverance.  On the final track of the record, Ray saved for us his most powerful message and the perfect coda; the definitive version of “America The Beautiful” is absolutely glorious.  It is quite simply the apotheosis of soul.  “America! God done shed his grace on thee! He crowned thy good, he told me he would, with brotherhood from sea to shining sea!”

Just like that, the masterpiece that is A Message From The People came to an end. Breaking the ensuing silence, Gordy turned around and said, “What if we covered this album? People really need to hear these songs again.”  The idea was hatched right then and there.

Fast forward almost a year later. In December 2017 we were working as a backing band on a variety of projects for other artists being produced by Gordy.  The sessions took place at the Finishing School, a studio built by close friend, producer, and musical collaborator, George Reiff, who tragically succumbed cancer in May ’17 after a 10-month fight. The studio had been dark since George’s passing.  With the blessing of the Reiff family, the lights were turned back on and we went to work for a few weeks. The final four days of session time were blocked off for us to work on something of our own. A few weeks prior to the sessions it was collectively decided that we would use that time to take a shot at recording some of A Message From The People. Working alongside our close friend (and George’s right-hand-man in the studio) Steve Christensen, there was a palpable vibration in the air. It was somber but also very peaceful. Our expectations were tempered, as we knew that doing any Ray Charles record justice was going to be a real challenge — let alone one with such lush arrangements. On top of that, we were working in a new bass player, Jesse Wilson. These sessions would be the first time we had worked with him in a studio environment (which can be a crucible for some). In spite of all that, the collective mentality, while unspoken, seemed to be “let’s give this a shot, this could be cool, there’s no pressure here.” To our amazement, after four days, we had finished the record. In between takes we frequently reminisced about George and were even visited at the studio by some of George’s close friends and family. Feeling confident that what we had accomplished was going to be worthy of a release, we unanimously agreed that it would be dedicated to the memory of George and that proceeds would go to a charitable organization that focused on social justice.

Going forward, our hope is that our performance of these songs has sufficient merit to carry the listener to the musical feeling that we strived to infuse in these recordings — a spirit of brotherhood, hope and understanding, liberty, and justice for all.

We were on the road somewhere in New England in early 2017, when the topic of conversation drifted toward the troubled social climate in the country. We all shared a sadness that bordered on despair at the relentless stream of unsettling news of corruption, social injustice, and an overall lack of moral decency.  We related similar experiences with how divisiveness was affecting those around us, how families were being torn apart over political and social issues. Eventually the weight of it all left us feeling quite solemn and the conversation trailed off — we returned to our thoughts and personal reflection as we rolled up the interstate. After a long period of silence, we felt like we needed to lighten the mood, and nothing heals the soul quite like music…

Trevor went to an obscure and out-of-print Ray Charles album that he had ripped from vinyl to mp3 to listen to on the road, A Message From The People…how appropriate.  Some of us were vaguely familiar with the context of this record — that it was released in the early 70’s (April ’72) during a time of great social upheaval in America. Nixon, Vietnam, race riots, protests in almost every major city…the country had fallen on some hard times.  Just by glancing at the LP’s artwork it’s easy to deduce that Ray had a message in mind when he made this record. The cover is a painting of Ray in a reflective pose next to a group of children with different ethnicities. They all sit beneath a Mt. Rushmore-like image with the faces of Bobby Kennedy, Abe Lincoln, Martin Luther King, Jr. and JFK.  With the first notes of the opening track “Lift Every Voice And Sing”, Ray had our undivided attention. Often referred to as the Black National Anthem, Ray’s genius is in full flight from the get-go, singing with incredible jubilation and hope, hitting us like a ton of bricks. It seemed like Ray had picked up where our conversation had trailed off just moments before…we were really LISTENING. The second track, “Seems Like I Gotta Do Wrong”, he sings with such a powerful sentiment of loneliness and helplessness — the plight of many in society who are forgotten or ignored. We remained silent, intently listening and reflecting on the meaning of every word he sang. Halfway through the record a couple of us were in tears. The messages in each song that Ray had carefully selected back in 1972 rang as true today as they did during the turbulent times they were initially released. In these moments, Ray’s voice became the voice of an elder — a true master was speaking to us from the past.  There is sorrow, protest, and anger but also resolve, hope, and deliverance.  On the final track of the record, Ray saved for us his most powerful message and the perfect coda; the definitive version of “America The Beautiful” is absolutely glorious.  It is quite simply the apotheosis of soul.  “America! God done shed his grace on thee! He crowned thy good, he told me he would, with brotherhood from sea to shining sea!”

Just like that, the masterpiece that is A Message From The People came to an end. Breaking the ensuing silence, Gordy turned around and said, “What if we covered this album? People really need to hear these songs again.”  The idea was hatched right then and there.

Fast forward almost a year later. In December 2017 we were working as a backing band on a variety of projects for other artists being produced by Gordy.  The sessions took place at the Finishing School, a studio built by close friend, producer, and musical collaborator, George Reiff, who tragically succumbed cancer in May ’17 after a 10-month fight. The studio had been dark since George’s passing.  With the blessing of the Reiff family, the lights were turned back on and we went to work for a few weeks. The final four days of session time were blocked off for us to work on something of our own. A few weeks prior to the sessions it was collectively decided that we would use that time to take a shot at recording some of A Message From The People. Working alongside our close friend (and George’s right-hand-man in the studio) Steve Christensen, there was a palpable vibration in the air. It was somber but also very peaceful. Our expectations were tempered, as we knew that doing any Ray Charles record justice was going to be a real challenge — let alone one with such lush arrangements. On top of that, we were working in a new bass player, Jesse Wilson. These sessions would be the first time we had worked with him in a studio environment (which can be a crucible for some). In spite of all that, the collective mentality, while unspoken, seemed to be “let’s give this a shot, this could be cool, there’s no pressure here.” To our amazement, after four days, we had finished the record. In between takes we frequently reminisced about George and were even visited at the studio by some of George’s close friends and family. Feeling confident that what we had accomplished was going to be worthy of a release, we unanimously agreed that it would be dedicated to the memory of George and that proceeds would go to a charitable organization that focused on social justice.

Going forward, our hope is that our performance of these songs has sufficient merit to carry the listener to the musical feeling that we strived to infuse in these recordings — a spirit of brotherhood, hope and understanding, liberty, and justice for all.

 

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.

The Texas Gentlemen will release their debut album TX Jelly on September 15th, 2017. The 11-song set was cut live in four days at the legendary FAME Studios in Muscle Shoals, AL and was produced by band leader and organist Beau Bedford. The album was paired down from 28 songs recorded in a 96-hour time span spent at FAME and moves between contemplative and raucous, encompassing the full breadth of the American music experience. Touching on blues, soul, folk, country, rock, and gospel, TX Jelly is real, raw, and righteous. Rolling Stone Country is premiering their new video for their first single “Pain” today which can be seen HERE. Inspired by the violent, super-saturated Grindhouse exploitation films found at drive-in movie theaters in the 70s, the Horatio Baltz-directed clip depicts each band member meeting their demise at the hands of a woman they each hit on at a bar. Rolling Stone Country states, “‘Pain,’ written and sung by pianist Daniel Creamer, is a perfect introduction to their rootsy mix of Southern rock and folk, an upbeat cross between The Band and early-Seventies-era George Harrison.” Paste Magazine previously premiered the video for the album opener “Habbie Doobie” which depicts the band jamming in their Modern Electric Sound Recorders studio in their hometown of Dallas, TX and can be seen HERE. The low-slung piece of vintage country-funk slams out of the speakers and announces The Texas Gentleman as a force to be reckoned with. Paste stated, “If its first track is any indication, Bedford and company’s TX Jelly is going to spread far beyond the boundaries of Texas itself. These Gentlemen are the real McCoy.” The Texas Gentlemen have also announced that they will perform the Chuck Berry Tribute which will feature Charlie Sexton and many other unannounced guests at The Newport Folk Festival next weekend. This September, The Texas Gentlemen will appear at Americanafest, Pilgrimage Music Festival along with Justin Timberlake, Eddie Vedder, Ryan Adams and more, and have also been tapped to support Eric Church’s Texas dates (see all dates below with many more to be added). TX Jelly will be available digitally, on compact disc and vinyl LP, and is available for pre-order now via PledgeMusic.

 

The Lone Star-bred collective is an ever-evolving cast of characters based around the core quintet of Beau Bedford, Nik Lee, Daniel Creamer, Matt McDonald, and Ryan Ake. They take their cues from some of the most 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 originally assembled The Texas Gentlemen as an all-purpose backing band for an eclectic array of singer-songwriters including Leon Bridges and Nikki Lane, among others. Last year, 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 Magazine called it one of the festival’s “most exciting sets” and Kristofferson so enjoyed collaborating with the band 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, The Fort Worth Star Telegram stated “The piano, organ, guitar, drums and saxophone would slowly coalesce around Kristofferson’s gnarled but still potent voice, creating an electric sensation of the past fusing with the present. Time and again, the room would seem to bloom – a feeling of dawn breaking, just barely visible but discernible, behind some of the best songs ever written.” Quickly becoming the go-to group of players, The Texas Gentlemen have also backed an incredible array of artists including George Strait, Ed Sheeran, Leon Bridges, Shakey Graves, Shawn Mendes, Matthew Logan Vasquez of Delta Spirit, Ray Wylie Hubbard, Ray Benson, Joe Ely (who described them as “the best backing band I have ever played with. Seriously.”) and many more.

 

Of TX Jelly, Bedford offered to Paste, “We set up our own version of Rock ‘n’ Roll Summer camp and invited our friends down to FAME studios. We figured at worst, we would have a great time as friends hanging out in one of the most historic studios in America. There was so much mojo once we turned all of the gear on – sounds just started popping out of the speakers, and the songwriters couldn’t help but feed off the energy. TX Jelly is the fruition of years of kinship and a deep hunger by our collective group for American roots music.”

 

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. TX Jelly effortlessly connects way back to what’s next and oozes with skill backed up by hard-won authenticity.