Watson provides rowdy, fun-filled night

Dale Watson’s “Ameripolitan” country music came to WAMC’s The Linda Monday night to a packed, standi
Dale Watson played The Linda on Monday, July 8, 2015.
Dale Watson played The Linda on Monday, July 8, 2015.

Dale Watson’s “Ameripolitan” country music came to WAMC’s The Linda Monday night to a packed, standing-room only audience.

With his coifed-up full white head of hair — “I bleached it blond” — Watson sang his wise-guy songs and delivered sarcastic lines between them, giving the crowd a range of good, somewhat rowdy, often drinking-related, tunes for a fun night.

With three veteran musicians behind him — a stand-up bassist, a pedal steel guitarist and a drummer — the songs were fast-paced, and occasionally old-country twangy. Half the time you couldn’t tell if Watson was singing for real or making fun of the song, or maybe making fun of the people who liked the song — all of us.

He opened with the title track from his latest, “Call Me Insane,” a sad country-western tune, with the line in the chorus “Is my destiny insanity.”

He pulled a beer from his pocket after the first song, opened it, swigged it, then held it up for us to see and recited a 20-second commercial with a cheesy theme song: “The only beer that whitens your teeth.”

Later on he continued the commercial. He asked everyone to record the commercial with their phones, and ordered everyone to “tweet, Facebook, and anything else.”

He turned serious on us for a great song from the new record. Before he started, he complained about how today’s country music has purged all “the dark songs these days,” stripped it from the full range of emotion. Then he sang the somber “Burden of the Cross,” with the chorus “a man needs to see his loss.”

“Jonesin’ for Jones” was a fast-paced country tune about George Jones. Throughout the night he dropped a lot of names he called large influences — “real country singers” — including Carl Perkins, Hank Williams, Merle Haggard, Johnny Cash and Willie Nelson.

It was at this point, early in the show, that he referred to his music as Ameripolitan, and mentioned, as he likes to do, that he had been abandoned by the country music establishment. He then sang, “A Real Country Song.”

He claimed to never use a set list, and when someone yelled “Exit 109,” he played it — a fast-paced song that opened with wild drumming, the chorus claiming “Exit 109 pointed to where the sun don’t shine.”

He returned to his set list with “Heaven’s Gonna Have a Honky-Tonk,” which he insisted was something the Bible promised. This chorus included the line, “I read in the good book, heaven is a place where the only thing we’ll have is all we’ll want,” thus, a honky-tonk.

He proudly told us, in his usual sarcastic tone, that “Call Me Insane” debuted at 53 on the charts, “and might have fallen off by now, I should check,” and then launched into “I’m through Hurtin’.”

Later in the show he asked for more requests. A woman raised her hand among the yelling, and he had everyone quiet down to hear her request — “You Are My Friend.” He said he wasn’t aware that he ever recorded it — he has 20-plus records — and then played a wonderful version of the slow, pretty country tune. He took another request after that, “I Drink to Remember,” then “I Lie When I Drink (and I drink a lot)”

The packed house was rowdier than usual and he told them several times how he liked them rowdy. Overall, a good show filled with decent songs, with a good band, and an entertaining real country singer.

Lara Hope and the Ark Tones, a Kingston-based rockabilly band, rocked the joint with their jumping sound to open the night. Hope, who sang all the songs, told us that Watson had requested a “female-fronted rockabilly band. And here we are.”

They did a great job loosening the crowd, getting them on their feet and even prompting a few audience members to hop on stage. Hope, a fantastic entertainer and singer, played tunes from the band’s recent release, “Luck Maker.” If you see this group playing near you, check them out.

Categories: Entertainment, News

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