Every summer a swarm of southern rock and boogie bands take to the road. Confederate flags are hoisted on stage, bottles of Jack Daniel's are hoisted as well, and rebel-yelling crowds grow hoarse expressing their appreciation for such groups as the Allman Brothers, the Charlie Daniels Band and the Outlaws.
During those months it's not uncommon to find the Henry Paul Band opening a concert at an amphitheater. Paul was once a member of the Outlaws, but his own band has never cracked the big time, and its performance at the Bayou last night suggested why.
The band never really rose above the level of uninspired competence. The overlapping twin, sometimes triple guitar lines all fell neatly into place, the lyrics were tried and true on-the-road laments, and Paul's voice, even though he was clearly suffering from a cold, stood up remarkably well. All that was missing was a sense of the band's own identity; it doesn't seem to have one.
In many respects, the songs are to blame. Like the band's perfunctory version of Van Morrison's "Brown-Eyed Girl," most of its material only recalls the superior work of other musicians, especially its more illustrious competition.
For the time being, at least, the Henry Paul Band seems well-suited to open concerts for the kingpins of Southern rock. It certainly won't be toppling them anytime soon.