The Cutting Room—with its Belle Époque gilt, stained glass, velvet drapes and surreal, crazy-as-a-loon guitar-shaped bar that seems to melt into the floor—seems like the perfect New York City venue for Southern Hospitality, a band that must have an auntie who serves up pecan pie and psychedelic sweet tea.
The tight five-piece wasted no time digging into their new album, Easy Livin’, with an early performance of “Don’t Feel Like Going There Today,” a good track with which to prepare the audience for the excellent musicianship and genre-morphing transitions that are typical of SoHo’s songs. The band regularly trades instrumental and vocal leads among lap steel guitar master Damon Fowler, guitarist JP Soars and versatile keyboardist Victor Wainwright, and one’s just as effective as the next. Whether they’re slipping in a little Santana-esque Latino riff or tipping their hat to Dr. John or Jerry Lee Lewis, the band’s own personality comes through no matter what page they’re on.
A couple show favorites that appear on the album illustrate the changes SoHo can make to songs without missing a beat: The soulful “Certified Lover” would make Marvin Gaye’s hair stand up on end, and their honky-tonk boogie “Come Back Home” is bound to get the stuffiest of us up and dancing. The guys treated us to an old gospel tune, “I Know I’ve Been Changed,” which I hope I’ll hear on their next album—the one I plan to keep right beside Easy Livin’.