Randy Houser

Paul Cauthen

Doors: 7:00 pm / Show: 8:00 pm

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Please Note: Balcony only accessible by stairs

Randy Houser

Randy Houser is a man refreshed. “I don’t know how it happened, but everything in my life has started lining up,” says the Lake, Mississippi native. “I must have done somebody right in the past.”

Those positive vibes of renewal ripple through Houser’s three consecutive No. 1 hits, “How Country Feels,” “Runnin’ Outta Moonlight” and “Goodnight Kiss,” which recently became Houser’s first No. 1 as a songwriter though he has written numerous hits for artists over the years. “How Country Feels” was his first-ever No. 1 at radio, and both it and “Runnin’ Outta Moonlight” earned RIAA Platinum certifications. All three songs are from Houser’s Stoney Creek Records debut, How Country Feels, which was released in early 2013. Upon release, the title track and lead single sparked a wildfire of accolades and media appearances including: CONAN, NBC Nightly News, NBC Weekend Today, CBS’s “On The Couch,” FOX & Friends, Better TV and many more. It also gave Houser his first American Country Award for Most Played Radio Track: Male in 2013.

Houser cut How Country Feels with producer Derek George, a long-time friend and fellow Mississippian he had wanted to work with for over a decade. It’s been called “a buoyant, hook-filled outing” (Washington Post) that’s infused with “a balance of revelry and introspection” (Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel) and shows off Randy’s powerhouse voice, hailed “one of the best in Nashville” by Great American Country (GAC) and numerous other critics.

Houser’s past contains no shortage of achievement, as it includes multiple nominations for ACM and CMA Awards, a No. 2 single in the form of “Boots On,” and songwriting credits for major names such as Trace Adkins, Justin Moore and Chris Young. In 2008—mere months after the release of his debut single, “Anything Goes”—Houser was even asked by David Letterman himself to appear on The Late Show. The singer’s first full-length album, Anything Goes, came out later that year, followed in 2010 by They Call Me Cadillac which spawned hit “Whistlin’ Dixie,” and fan-favorite “A Man Like Me.”

But despite this early success, Houser now admits that he wasn’t truly happy. “It seemed like professionally things weren’t as great as they could be, and that was part of it,” he says. “But the biggest thing was not having a home base.” Shortly after, Houser signed with new label home Stoney Creek Records based in Nashville, Tenn.

“Everybody there feels like part of my family,” Houser says of the independent imprint, where he happily signed following a long stretch of intensive touring. (How intensive? Think 150 shows a year.) “You walk in the door and everybody seems really happy with their job; there’s no strife in the air. That’s really important for me to have right now. It’s comforting.”

New tracks on How Country Feels echo the title single’s sunny self-assurance, including “We’re Just Growing Younger” and “Along for the Ride,” which Houser co-wrote with Zac Brown. “We were playing a festival and I just had this song rolling around in my head,” Houser remembers of the latter. “I stayed up till about 5 in the morning but then got stuck. So I called up Zac and we went on his bus and knocked it out of the park.”

There is contemplation, too: “Like a Cowboy,” which is Houser’s latest single, is about “me coming home for a few days, then having to leave again,” Houser says. “Route 3 Box 250D” provides an intimate snapshot of the singer’s upbringing. “That one’s kind of hard to listen to,” he admits. “It hits almost too close to home.” Billboard calls the song “stunning,” and The New York Times writes, “His voice here is almost wholly different, thicker and more throbbing, a caldron bubbling over. For a few minutes he’s the singer Nashville won’t let him be.”

As for the sound of How Country Feels, Houser says it’s his most expansive outing yet, with more bells and whistles than he’s used in the past; it also showcases the remarkable voice that led Vince Gill to call Houser “one of the best in the new crop of country singer-songwriters” and pal Jamey Johnson to say, “I watched a blind man jump to his feet and drop his crutches the first time he heard Randy Houser sing.”

And since the release of How Country Feels, critics have echoed those claims in reviews, with MSN writing “Houser is hands down one of the best male vocalists in Nashville,” and quoting Dierks Bentley as saying, “It’s kind of ridiculous how good of a singer he is.”

Still, the heart of the album—of Houser’s entire outlook right now—remains the story of a man who’s moved through darkness into light. “I feel like I’ve reached such a special moment,” he says, and it’s a true pleasure to hear him inside it.

Paul Cauthen

Making Room 41 nearly killed Paul Cauthen. Ironically enough, it’s also the very thing that saved him.

“Finishing this record was one of the craziest experiences I’ve ever been a part of,” reflects Cauthen, the larger-than-life Texas troubadour nicknamed Big Velvet for his impossibly smooth, baritone voice. “I’m honestly glad it’s done because I don’t think I’d survive if I had to do it all over again. No way.”

Written during a roughly two-year stint spent living out of a suitcase in Dallas’ Belmont Hotel, Room 41 chronicles Cauthen’s white-knuckle journey to the brink and back, a harrowing experience that landed him in and out of the hospital as he careened between ecstasy and misery more times than he could count. Cauthen has long been a pusher of boundaries (musical and otherwise), and Room 41 is no exception, with electrifying performances that blend old-school country and gritty soul with 70’s funk and stirring gospel. His lyrics take on biblical proportions as they tackle lust and envy, pride and despair, destruction and redemption, but these songs are no parables.

Cauthen lived every single line of this record, and he’s survived to tell the tale.

“I’ve always been the kind of artist that can’t write something unless I feel it and I mean it.” says Cauthen, “This record is as real as it gets for me. I am these songs.”

Cauthen first earned his reputation as a fire-breathing truth-teller with the acclaimed roots rock band Sons of Fathers, but it wasn’t until the 2016 release of his solo debut, My Gospel, that he truly tapped into the full depth of his prodigious talents. Vice Noisey dubbed it “a somber reminder of how lucky we are to be alive,” while Texas Monthly raved that Cauthen “sound[s] like the Highwaymen all rolled into one: he’s got Willie’s phrasing, Johnny’s haggard quiver, Kristofferson’s knack for storytelling, and Waylon’s baritone.” The album landed on a slew of Best Of lists at the year’s end and earned festival appearances from Austin City Limits and Pickathon to Stagecoach and Tumbleweed along with dates opening for Elle King, Margo Price, Midland, Cody Jinks, Social Distortion and more. He followed it up two years later with Have Mercy, an album that prompted Rolling Stone to dub him “one of the most fascinating, and eccentric, new voices in country music” and NPR’s Ann Powers to proclaim 2019 as “the year of Paul Cauthen.”

As his professional life reached new heights, though, Cauthen’s personal life hit new lows, and he soon found himself drifting without a home. Checked in to room 41 at the Belmont, he began escalating his self-destructive tendencies, medicating heartbreak and anxiety with alcohol and drugs as he ground himself into oblivion.

“I’d drink like a fish all night and stay up writing or recording from about 4am until noon,” Cauthen explains. “Then I’d sleep away the rest of the day until it was time to start over again. The only thing that kept me ticking was the songs.”

Cauthen’s routine may have left him with plenty to write about, but it was taking a heavy toll on both his physical and mental health.

“The whole ‘ripping your heart of our chest and pouring it into your art’ thing might be good for songwriting for a little while,” says Cauthen, “but I wouldn’t wish it on anybody. I worked myself up into such a frenzy that I couldn’t keep going on without getting some real medical help.”

Cauthen credits his survival in no small part to his collaborators on the album, a wide range of writers, musicians, and producers who rallied around him and believed in his work enough to help him see it through. The production credits alone read like a who’s who of modern Texas music, including Niles City Sound (Leon Bridges, Nicole Atkins), Matt Pence (Jason Isbell, Nikki Lane), and Beau Bedford and Jason Burt, Cauthen’s longtime creative foils at Dallas’ Modern Electric studio.

“Modern Electric is always going to be my home,” says Cauthen, “but after we started working on this album there, I felt like I hit a wall and needed a change of scenery, so I brought the band with me over to Fort Worth to work with Austin Jenkins and Josh Block and Chris Vivion at Niles City. Nobody had brought the Dallas sound to Fort Worth like that before, and it turned out to be a recipe for something really special.”

The mix of producers and recording environments helped Cauthen walk the line between retro and modern, with bold, adventurous arrangements informed by country tradition but completely untethered from its strictures. The introduction of album opener “Holy Ghost Fire” sounds more like Gnarls Barkley than Merle Haggard, and the ultra-funky “Cocaine Country Dancing” flirts with Prince, but the arrival of Cauthen’s unmistakable voice gives each song a singular life of its own. As with much of the album, tracks like “Holy Ghost Fire” and the “Cocaine Country Dancing” find themselves taking good hard looks in the mirror, and while they’re not exactly thrilled with what they see, the experiences are ultimately cathartic ones. The sweeping “Prayed For Rain,” for instance, serves as a reminder to be selfless in the face of our more egotistical instincts, while the heartrending “Slow Down” is a plea to treat ourselves with patience and kindness, and the R&B-influenced “Freak” recognizes that, deep down, we all want and deserve the same things out of life.

“I wrote that song about my experience in the Smith County Jail,” says Cauthen. “I met a lot of crazy characters there, but everybody in this world deserves a chance. At the end of the day, we’re all freaks, and we all just want to love and be loved.”

Cauthen’s never had a problem when it comes to loving those around him, but learning to love himself has been a different story altogether. He comes to terms with the person behind the persona on “Big Velvet,” grapples with his faith on the rousing “Give ‘em Peace,” and channels Roy Orbison on the gorgeous “Can’t Be Alone.”

“I started writing that song on the piano in the lobby of The Belmont at 4am,” says Cauthen. “I probably woke some guests up, but at the time, I didn’t really care. I just didn’t think I could take feeling alone like that any more.”

In the end, writing and recording Room 41 showed Cauthen that he wasn’t alone, and in that sense, maybe these songs are parables after all. As richly detailed and firmly rooted in Cauthen’s lived experiences as they are, the stories here are universal, with the kind of deeply layered meanings and insights that continue to reveal themselves slowly over time. These days, Cauthen is out of the hotel, but he still carries the lessons he learned in room 41 everywhere he goes, approaching life with a newfound gratefulness and living in the moment with an appreciation for the present that might have seemed impossible even just a year ago.

“I’m making a living with my music and paying the bills,” says Cauthen. “I’ve already made it in my eyes. I’m here. I’ve arrived.”

Venue Information:
Temple Live
200 N. 11th Street
Fort Smith, AR, 72901
https://www.templelive.com/