Austin, Texas, SXSW 2005
Opal Divine's Freehouse, Friday, March 18
One of the best ambassadors of Texas music, Jesse Dayton's high-powered country soul was most likely a surprise to out-of-towners. For locals, it's not unexpected for Dayton to be a commanding stage presence with a voice smooth and strong and guitar abilities to match. The remarkable part was the size of his band, which featured two horns, pedal steel, electric banjo, and keys. He dubbed it the Country Soul Revue, and with a quick "Are we good to go, Daddy?" he kick-started a hell of a party. Barreling through a double-time version of "Train Train" that segued into his honky-tonk take of the Cars' "Just What I Needed," Dayton combined rock and country in a way that recalled the vision of Doug Sahm. Like Sir Doug, Dayton understands Texas music has no boundaries and he played like he was out to prove it. His one misstep was a song about smoking marijuana that was just a little too jokey. He more than made up for it by closing with a rendition of Townes Van Zandt's "Loretta," which featured an inventive arrangement that was country to the bone as Dayton delivered the tune with all his might.