Cale Tyson, as old as he is young…

ANOTHER night in restless sheets – somebody ought to write a country song about it. Perhaps Cale Tyson is the man for the job, although at 25 he is probably too young for the dusty night spaces of insomnia.

Maybe the late hour of my return sent the night off the rails, although sometimes that does the opposite. Anyway the wakefulness was worth it.

Cale Tyson is a Texan who looks like a movie director’s idea of a young cowboy, tall, slim and handsome, with his hair worn quite long. He is causing a stir in music circles, and the Observer calls him “a traditionalist for the future”.

Two years ago, when he was only 23, Rolling Stone picked him as one to watch, summing up his music as “old school, sad-bastard outlaw country for a new generation of excited country fans”.

Until last night, I knew little more than that. York music enthusiast David Nicholson has been going on about him for a while, as he does. And as is often the way, Dave Nick was spot on.

Cale played in York last night at the Crescent, tucked away behind what I still think of as the Odeon cinema even though the famous name is long gone.

To put the evening in its order, there were two enjoyable support acts, Mulholland and Boss Caine, and then Cale Tyson and his band took to the small stage and gleefully, mournfully – this is country, after all – took the place apart with songs that soared and swooned, shed salty tears into your beer – beer tastes better for it, Cale told us – and rocked or followed a lonesome blues trail.

An older couple danced stylishly in front of the stage. “Anyone know who those people are?” Tyson asked, later saying they were his parents, who had flown over to follow some dates on his tour, and York was their last night.

What Cale Tyson has is a tap-root to the old songs: his music sounds older than him, and references everyone from Hank Williams to Gram Parsons and Willie Nelson, while also sounding very much his own.

As well as his charm as a performer, he also has a pedal steel guitar player to fill out his songs. Brett Resnick was the man with the plangent steel notes in his lap, and he produced a remarkable array of sounds and rhythmic clicks.

As well as Cale on guitar and vocals, Resnick on pedal steel, Mike Rinne was on bass and Pete Lindbergh on drums (caution: these names came from a Google skim). In a lovely quiet interlude, Cale played solo with backing vocals from Lindbergh and the results were shiver-inducing.

Cale Tyson has a new album out, called Careless Soul, which is said to have a country soul feel, with horns filling out the sound. On stage he is more straight-ahead country and none the worse for it: a fantastic night and all praise to promoter Joe Coates for putting on such a good show.

Now I need to get writing that song. Where does an old school sad-bastard insomniac start? Well, not with the whisky bottle that’s for sure. I tried that cure once but it seemed like a slippery slope towards sleep.

Whiskey is a good start for a country song though. I could always borrow Cigarettes, Whiskey and Wild Wild Women from Ramblin’ Jack Elliott, I guess. No Cigarettes (Don’t Smoke), Whisky (only on a Friday night) and Wild Wild Women (oh, I think my wife might have something to say about that).


  1. Thanks for the kind name-check. btw I think John McTigue plays in one version of Cale’s band, but not this one. Drummer last night was Pete Lindbergh, a singer -songwriter in his own right, who toured Europe with Cale last year, playing excellent guitar and singing back-up.
    Worth Googling for their spine-tingling cover on You Tube of the old Eddy Arnold hit, Make The World Go Away.

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