Somewhere along the line, someone decided that Country music should be defined by big hats and arena pyrotechnics and a 12-piece band and a light show. That may be entertainment with a hillbilly chaser but it ain’t Country, Bubba. If you’re looking for honest to God Country music the way it was intended to be, find yourself a honky tonk marquee with the words “Dale Watson Tonight” emblazoned upon it, get in front of that stage, strap yourself in and get ready for a hootenanny of epic proportions.
Watson doesn’t hide his disdain for the current state of Country; the cover of his last album of original songs, 2007’s From the Cradle to the Grave, showed Watson next to a headstone with the epitaph “Country Music, R.I.P.” Watson is so convinced of the genre’s demise that he’s coined a new term for the kind of music he presents, calling it Ameripolitan, a blend of rootsy, electrified Americana and Countrypolitan, the ’60s designation for Country music that was polished and poppy yet still adhered to Country’s basic qualities.
Watson’s latest album is the second volume of his Truckin’ Sessions series where he pays tribute to the 18-wheel gladiators of the highway with a set of original bangin’ and twangin’ songs, and it’s Country music as pure as moonshine, as authentic as Hank Williams’ drawl and as bankable as the world currency that Watson has glued to his Tompkins guitar.
No less an authority than Hank Williams III has called Dale Watson “the savior of traditional Country music.” Who are we to argue with that assessment? But don’t take our word for it (or Hank III’s, for that matter) — Watson offers up the best evidence on every stage he graces on any given night of the year.
(Buy tickets, check out performance times and find nearby bars and restaurants here.)