Paul Cauthen began his SXSW not with a showcase – that would come
later, when he headlined the inaugural Big Velvet Revue at the Rustic Tap on a
hectic St. Patrick's Day – but with a mid-bill slot at the Palm Door on 6th
Street. The Texan and his band carry more than a hint of Waylon Jennings'
swagger, but they're not fastidious in replicating the sounds of the Seventies.
With their industrial strength twang, this crew pushes the past right into the
present, and Cauthen provides a powerful center of gravity onstage, lending
this music both humanity and muscle. But what made this gig seems special is
that it wasn't necessarily anything special at all: it was the kind of strong,
solid performance that suggested Cauthen could deliver the goods any given day
of the week. In the often overheated setting of SXSW, such sturdy reliability
is an unabashed pleasure. S.T.E.