This review of Paul Sheesley's Cowboy Choral: Paul Evans & The Coyotes at The Duplex Cabaret Theatre was written by Dr. Thomas Robert Stevens and published in Volume X, Issue 6 (2016) of the online edition of Applause! Applause!
Cowboy Choral: Paul Evans & The Coyotes
Starring Paul Sheesley
Steel Pedal Guitar: Justin Gaynor
Bass: Ian Kenselaar
Vocals & Guitar: Beth Callen
The Duplex Cabaret Theatre
61 Christopher Street
New York, New York 10014
This cabaret show is a parody of a 1950s local television show airing on KTTN-TV serving the Abilene/Sweetwater (46 miles apart) broadcasting community in Texas. The show is entitled Cowboy Choral and it stars Paul Evans & The Coyotes, who sing a number of country songs without introduction and with very little enthusiasm. The show is hosted by Paul Sheesley, who portrays Paul Evans as a relatively wooden man expressing few emotions and little personality. His voice is not particularly good, and his only joke, which was uncomfortably inappropriate in the context of the show's theme, was that a wooden man who lost his wooden woman (the love of his life who he never kissed) at least "always had morning wood." Cowboy Choral was said to be sponsored by Pinky's Feed & Seed. Paul Evans does a commercial for the sponsor saying, "Pinky's Feed & Seed located on Highway 84 in Buffalo Gap. Featuring Purina Puppy Chow. So complete, all you add is love. Remember, if it clucks, quacks, squawks or squeals, you gotta a pinky in there!"
I imagine the back story of Paul Evans to be as follows. For years, he and his third-rate coyote band have played gigs in the local country music bar or barbecue restaurants where they performed in the background while patrons ate and spoke. The local television station had an hour of dead time to fill in the 3-4 a.m. time slot and approached Paul Evans. Seeing this as the opportunity of a lifetime, Paul decides to hire professional musicians to come in from Dallas to accompany him. He spares no expense and brings in the best: Justin Gaynor, who is absolutely amazing on pedal steel guitar; Ian Kenselaar, whose superior talents were exhibited on bass; and the perky, charismatic Beth Callen, who contributed to the show on vocals and guitar. Together they sang such standards as "Settin' The Woods On Fire" (made famous by Hank Williams); "Running Bear" (made famous by Johnny Preston); "Mama Tried" (made famous by Merle Haggard); "Rawhide" (made famous by Frankie Laine); and Mamas Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up To Be Cowboys" (made famous by Waylon Jennings). Many other numbers were presented as well. The problem is that Paul Evans, as played by Paul Sheesley, is no showman. He doesn't exhibit a warm or pleasant personality. Despite his hope for a big breakthrough, anyone watching the television show realizes he will be back singing in a local country music bar very soon, and probably for the rest of his life.
I give Paul Sheesley credit for trying to introduce classic country music to New York audiences and for doing so with the added twist of presenting it as a parody of a bad, 1950s local television show. Cowboy Choral: Paul Evans & The Coyotes was well worth the price of admission, if for nothing else, then to hear Justin Gaynor play steel pedal guitar, Ian Kenselaar perform on bass, and Beth Callen sing. There are worse ways to spend an evening!