Lucinda Williams, Robert Earl Keen, Ryan Bingham, Hayes Carll, Black Joe Lewis & the Honeybears – Lost Highway Records Showcase – SXSW, TX

Another favorite SXSW showcase, having moved from the Austin Music Hall to the brand new Moody Theater, is the Lost Highway Records extravaganza. This year’s line-up revolved around Texan(-ish) talent, Lucinda Williams, Robert Earl Keen, Ryan Bingham, Hayes Carll and Black Joe Lewis and the Honeybears.

It was Black Joe Lewis, with help from the old-school Dallas group, The Relatives, who stole the show with an hour of non-stop soul. Their new record, Scandalous lives up to its name, it’s so good it could quite possibly be outlawed.

Hayes Carll, who just finished a tour of Texas to support KMAG YOYO (& other American Stories), delighted with honky-tonk country, a saucy political duet with Cary Ann Hearst (“Another Like You”) and the previously unreleased “Two Girls, One Bed.”

Unfortunately, the schedule’s “Special Guest” was none other than Ryan Bingham and the Dead Horses. While speculation pointed to a possible Jayhawks appearance – or even Elvis Costello, Bingham’s “Crazy Heart” success has spilled over to his acclaimed record, Junky Star, from which he performed several tunes (“Hallelujah,” “Direction of the Wind”).

Robert Earl Keen, legendary good ol’ boy and singer of songs about endless roads, wasn’t nearly as impressive as the younger talent, but his nod to Todd Snider with “Train Song” was sweet.

Former Texan Lucinda Williams has finally found a good balance between sickeningly happy and scathingly bitter with her new record, Blessed. “Born to be Loved,” “Unsuffer Me” and “Blessed” all made appearances in her set as well older favorites like “Change The Locks” and “Joy.” She closed out the night with Buffalo Springfield’s “For What It’s Worth” dedicating it to the people voicing their opinions and standing up for their rights.

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Photos by Nichole Wagner

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