Before his show Paul Cauthen wandered into the bar of the Slaughtered Lamb in London’s Clerkenwell. A guy in a Stetson called him over saying “Hey Paul, I’m Texas Joe”. He then presented Cauthen with a demin jacket emblazoned with Big Velvet, his nickname due to his size and rich voice. Cauthen and Texas Joe were soon sharing a beer and deep in conversation, probably based on their native Texas, with Joe inviting Cauthen to his smokehouse restaurant near London Bridge.
Cauthen came to the attention of BOON when we reviewed his support set for Andrew Combs in May 2017. That solo gig was a taste of the man’s awesome power and talent.
Two years, one extended EP (Have Mercy with seven tracks it sits between and EP and an album) and an album in the can ready for release on September 6th which promises to be another cracker, Cauthen is back in the UK and this time with his full band. In a tour taking in Glasgow, Manchester, Bristol and London, Cauthen’s here to play Black Deer festival.
Cauthen proudly paraded his band “These are my boys from Texas and we’re gonna shake this joint.” He began his set at the Slaughtered Lamb, a venue as good as its name, with Holy Ghost Fire from the forthcoming album Room 41. Cauthen’s immense physical and spiritual presence dominated the room and it was musical fire and brimstone from the off with his booming baritone astonishing the unsuspecting.
Still Drivin’ from his 2016 debut solo album My Gospel set the tone for the set, hard rocking country blues with a driving beat from the band he put together a year ago of lead guitar (Cauthen plays acoustic rhythm), bass, drums and keys.
Have Mercy has all you need to know about Cauthen. The voice that lays somewhere between an Elvis ballad, Johnny Cash and Roy Orbison, combined with passionate delivery and every syllable enunciated. As he said in a chat to BOON after the gig “My producer said ‘Paul, you are a good singer, but to be a great singer you’ve got to pronounce the end of your words’ which I do now.”
Saddle led into the country murder ballad She’s Gone with almost a New Orleans marching band feel. The funky Resignation had Texas Joe up and dancing and My Cadillac was country boogie par excellence with Cauthen showing his moves and dancing with his guitar.
After an hour Cauthen gave the band a break and the audience a treat with three solo numbers, with dextrous finger-picking guitar skills, no less intensity or vocal volume, including Grand Central and the emotional, stripped-back To Whom Do You Belong?
Finishing with Hanging Out On The Line and the new single Cocaine Country Dancing with an extended groove jam from the band, Cauthen swaggered over to the bar to mingle and chat with any audience member that wanted a chat, autograph or selfie.
Paul Cauthen. Big Man. Big Voice. Big Heart. Big Talent.
Words and Live Photo by Chaz Brooks