July 21, 2022
A phenomenal thing happened in Paris, Texas in late July. A summer heat spell had culminated into the hottest day of the summer – a crushing record 108 degrees, with a heat index of 116 degrees. There had been no rain for the prior 7 weeks, and the fields were so dry that huge swaths of the Texas prairie had burned to a blond crisp. Back in Dallas, even the squirrels were splooting to stay cool.
On the morning of July 21, while 100 miles to the southeast, Dallas was burning at 106 degrees, Paris got soaked with rain, and the temperature dropped precipitously to 75 degrees. It was as if the massive seas of hair-dryer grade heat had parted with cool mountain air, creating a microclimate that invited everyone in the area to get outside and enjoy it. In other words, it was a perfect night for a summer Texas rock ‘n’ roll show.
Honey Grove native Tyler Bryant and his band the Shakedown were in Paris for a homecoming of sorts, with over 1,000 of his friends, family and fans all showing up. They were performing at the 903 Sunset summer concert series. Though he now lives in Nashville, Bryant told Buddy back in June 2019 that while he has no problem opening cold for 80,000 AC/DC fans in a stadium, playing to his hometown crowd makes him a little edgy. But if he was nervous that night, it didn’t show.
Tyler and his band busted out with a “family and friends” version of their arena rock show, which they have honed through years of club gigs that morphed into touring stints with major touring acts around the world. They’ve developed a rare knack for hitting the stage and winning over stadiums of fans who didn’t know their name 45 minutes before. But this crowd knew the band well, and they were on their feet from the first song.
High energy blues-rock tunes melded into straight ahead heavy riff-rock. Solo resonator guitar licks brought the dynamics back down a little, only for the band to kick in and bring it back up. The band abandoned their set list within the first two songs, and Tyler began to interchange between his pink-Cadillac Strat (a painted homage to his idol, Elvis Presley), and a resonator guitar for some slide blues fare.
In between songs, he paid tribute to one his guitar teachers and primary influences, the late Paris native Roosevelt Twitty. He dedicated Elvis’ “That’s All Right Mama” to his parents, thanking them for allowing him to pretend that he was indeed Elvis for a good part of his childhood. At one point in the show, Tyler called out his guitar tech to bring another guitar change, and when he turned around to grab it, he realized his dad had pranked him by playing the tech role. They both smiled, and he launched into the next tune.
The show ended with the blues rock dirge “Ramblin’ Bones,” building up slowly, with drummer Caleb Crosby banging a bass drum at the front of the stage, then transitioning to a bashing finish-out on the full kit. The song stayed in my head for days afterward. Guitarist Graham Whitford also kicked out a nice Texas-styled blues solo, and the bottom end was adeptly held down by bassist Ryan Fitzgerald.
Overall, it was a very enjoyable and energetic homecoming show for the band, infused with the flavor of Northeast Texas blues, on a perfect night.