The Austin Chronicle

SXSW Live Shots

Music Showcase

Reviewed by Jim Caligiuri, March 15, 2002, Music

Paul Burch & WPA Ballclub

Continental Club, Friday 15 Even though he opened this showcase of bands associated with Lost Highway Records, Paul Burch has not officially signed to the currently red-hot Nashville based label the official word being, "We're close." Nevertheless, Burch remains one of the most esoteric of any of Music City's performers and songwriters, and this brief set contained all the elements of what makes up his singular style. From an electric country rock beginning, he moved to the old-timey "Up on the Mountain," then segued into the swinging "Your Red Wagon" and slowed things down to a sultry blues. Augmented by a couple of Nashville's top sidemen, Duane Jarvis on lead guitar and Fats Kaplin on pedal steel and fiddle, Burch's music played at a higher voltage than it has in the past. But his songs still possess an element of traditional country, heavy on the twang with rustic images throughout. As an added edge, his stage presence is amplified through his off-kilter humor, aspects of which meld seamlessly with his tunes that allude to a different time. "We're from Nashville, but don't hold it against us," he remarked with a deep twinkle in his eye. Comments like that make it seem like Burch might be a perfect fit with the renegades at Lost Highway after all.

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