A couple of weeks back I had the pleasure of seeing Austin’s very own Dale Watson & His Lone Stars at the Beachland Tavern with my pal Dale, not Watson. It was a cold January Tuesday night but once inside the tavern full of real country music lovers one would think they were in Texas with the atmosphere and fun attitude spread about during the performance. Cowboy hats were optional and I only saw a couple during the evening to be quite honest.
A brief history how Dale Watson’s music and I came to be before I even go on… I was working at the record store I once managed with my pal Dale, not Watson. Dale picked up a CD one day with a guy on the cover who had a couple tattoos and almost looked rockabilly mixed with some Chris Isaak appeal (here is a link to the album we had in our hands). I honestly thought once the CD began we were going to listen to some rock act that never made it but the moment Dale Watson’s voice came across the speakers both our mouths dropped open.
It was country music, not that crappy pop country music, but honest and wholesome country with some outlaw attitude added. His voice was baritone and ever so comforting. I was instantly reminded of Johnny Cash, Merle Haggard, and even Waylon Jennings while listening to the CD. Dale was more astounded than I and he became a huge fan in moments time. Sometimes picking up a random CD out of a pile of what looks like nothing just to check out the sound is worth it.
I later on would learn that Dale Watson was more of an underground DIY type of artist who preferred to do things his way even if it meant he would not gain immediate popularity. He is friends with Jackass star Johnny Knoxville, and has released 18 albums (live & studio) over the past 15 years. Many of the songs are about being on the road doing his thing, truck stops, and life. Not all is cheerful though as some songs are written around the love of his life who he lost to a car accident in 2000 as well as how Dale Watson coped through the ordeal. His downward spiral of abuse and depression from the tragedy luckily ended in time for the artist to continue going through with his passion.
Dale Watson has come through town a couple of times now over the years but for whatever reason I missed out. Dale, not Watson, though made it to a prior show and had nothing but good things to say. I always was curious to see him live so the moment I found out Dale Watson was coming back to Cleveland I owed it to myself to make an appearance and thanks to Dale, not Watson, I was able to set aside time to ensure I would be there. There was no way in hell I was going to miss this opportunity as seeing someone as charismatic as Dale Watson.
Upon walking into the tavern that night I was shocked to see that I was actually one of the younger fans in house but I did not let that bother me at all. Before I knew it some older gentleman sitting at the bar was telling me stories about his tattoos and a Bic pen (don’t ask). He was beyond entertaining and I think was more than half in the bag before the show even started. I never did catch his name. A couple other folk there I actually knew so prior to the show we hung out and talked Watson.
With no opening act Dale Watson & His Lone Stars took the tiny stage and delivered an amazing show. Having been the first time I witnessed them live I made sure to plant my feet right next to the stage and held my ground until the last song was played. I also was equipped with my trusty camera so I may have taken a photo or two.
Having the fans provide the set list during the evening proved Dale Watson and crew were all about putting on the best show possible. A couple of times Watson would acknowledge the shouted out song and tell the fans he was going to save that for later but for the most part when some one shouted out a track the band played it. Playing tracks new and old I got a better taste of his material that evening than I ever imagined. Still learning his catalog I was most excited to hear “Country My Ass” and “Exit 109”.
After the show my pal Dale, not Watson, and I struck up a conversation with the drummer of the band as well as their road manager. Both gents were very cool people and after a little time passed we learned that Watson likes to drive the tour bus himself amongst other things. We even all shared a shot and toasted to my birthday that was happening in just a couple hours.
The shot you ask? A Jagerbomb… Yeah I know, not too country.
Soon they introduced us to Dale Watson who was just hanging out at the bar drinking a beer and chatting with a couple other fans. Needless to say Dale Watson was just as cool as the other members. He kindly chatted to the both of us and Dale, not Watson, told Dale Watson that he “felt like a little kid meeting Hanna Montana.” Laughs were shared about but I know how Dale, not Watson, felt. Even if Dale Watson is not at the top of the charts we both see him as a musical icon and to meet him and talk to him was a big deal. I could not have asked for a better evening of music that night and thanks to Dale Watson & His Lone Stars I also have some memories to accompany my most recent birthday.
Here’s a little snippet of the show thanks to Dale, not Watson, who filmed it with one of my cameras:
Have you found yourself interested in Dale Watson? Here are a couple of my recommendations: